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      Biosphere Reserve Information



  General Description   The Lauca Biosphere Reserve is situated in the Puna biogeographic region, in the northern part of Chile in the Andean Chain. The area comprises three protected areas: Lauca National Park, ‘Las Vicuñas’ National Reserve and ‘Salar de Surire’ Natural Monument. The Biosphere Reserve has high floristic value, representing a large part of Andean biodiversity in Chile. The vast plateau of the Altiplano consists of meadows, crossed by deep gorges, dotted with lagoons, dark lava outcrops and occasional white sparkling saltpans, with a number of permanent fresh, brackish and saline lakes, marshes, as well as fast flowing mountain rivers and streams. There are three principal plant formations: tolar, Andean steppe, and llaretal. Tolar is characterized by shrubs with the tree Polylepis tarapacana and the cacti Opuntia spp. The Andean steppe comprises perennial Andean grasslands and wet meadows as well as grass species. The llaretal is characterized by Laretia spp. with cushion-like specimens. Although not very abundant, the fauna is diverse. Mammals include lama (Lama glama), alpaca (Lama pacos) and vicuña (Vigugna vicugna). Noteworthy birds are puna ibis (Plegadis ridgwayi), huallata (Chloephaga melanoptera) and Andean condor (Vultur gryphus). Only 200 elderly people (2000) of the Aymara tribe are living in the area in a traditional fashion with sustainable use of the natural resources . In 1997, around 30,000 national and 9,000 international tourists visited the reserve. There is some income generation for local population, mainly from handicrafts and guiding of tourists.
  Major ecosystem type   Mixed mountain and highland systems
  Major habitats & land cover types   Scrublands "tolar" with Fabiana deserticola, F. viscosa, Ephedra andina, Baccharis tola etc.; low woodlands with Fabiana deserticola, Polylepis tarapacana, Festuca ortophylla etc.; humid steppe "bofedal" characterized by Oxychloe andina, Gentiana prostata, Werneria pigmaea etc.; "llaretal" characterized by Azorela compacta and Parastrephia quadrangularis; lagoons; pasture land; rocky habitats
  Location   18°03' to 19°00'S; 68°57' to 69°40'W
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   358,312
  Core area(s)  
  Buffer zone(s)  
  Transition area(s) when given  
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   +3,400 to +6,410
  Year designated   1981
  Administrative authorities   Corporación Nacional Forestal (CONAF)
  Brief description   Medicinal plants
Population dynamics of Vicuña and aquatic birds
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   n.a.
  Biodiversity   Birds, mammals, natural medicinal products, population genetics/population dynamics.
  Socio-economic   n.a.
  Integrated monitoring   n.a.
  Contact address   Franco Venegas
Corporación Nacional Forestal CONAF
Vicuña Mackenna 820
  Telephone   (56.58) 25 07 39
(56.58) 25 05 70 or 25 02 07
  Fax   (56.58) 25 07 50
  Web site  

Last updated: 08/03/2011

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