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      Biosphere Reserve Information



  General Description   Cabo de Hornos Biosphere Reserve, the first nominated in Chile in more than 20 years, is located in the extreme south of the American continent, comprising marine areas, islands and forested coast. It includes an extensive and remote area of temperate forests, the sub-antarctic or sub-polar forests of Magellanic Chile, that recently have been identified as one of the 37 most pristine ecoregions in the world. This ecoregion corresponds to one of the unique areas where non-fragmented or altered temperate forests are conserved. The Archipelago of Cabo de Hornos is one of the few insular groups that remain free of human impact. The mosaic of terrestrial ecosystems includes evergreen broadleaf forests, deciduous forests, alpine habitats with formations of cushion plants and lichens, a complex of tundra formations ranging from Juncaceae wetlands to Sphagnum peat bogs, glaciers and snowdrifts, and a series of freshwater ecosystems. These ecosystems are located in an insular system, in the middle of an intricate system of fjords, channels, estuaries and bays. In this regional heterogeneity several types of intertidal systems are distinguished with extensive meadows and belts of brown seaweed (Macrocystis pyrifera). Recent analysis has shown that the sub-antarctic ecoregion of Magellanic Chile includes the greatest diversity of non-vascular floral species in Chile, and constitutes a hotspot of bryophyte diversity.

The region to the south of 50°S also represents a hotspot of invertebrate and marine mammal diversity, with cetaceans such as the Peale's dolphin (Lagenorhynchus australis) and black dolphin (Cephalorhynchus eutropia), and occasional visits by killer whales (Orcinus orca) and antarctic minke whales (Balaenoptera bonaerensis). The presence of penguins are remarkable, principally the Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) and the rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes crestatus).

The core areas are constituted of the Cabo de Hornos and Agostini National Parks, which in spite of their proximity, are not interconnected. The biosphere reserve will contribute to initiate scientific education, research and conservation programs in both national parks and establish a biological corridor between them.

Cabo de Hornos represents the southernmost territory in the world with pre-Columbian populations, since the territory corresponds to the ancestral territory of the Yagán people. Some 2.200 people live in the transition area with a concentration in Puerto Williams. The resident civil population mainly includes the indigenous community of Yagán descending from the first colonists. The main economic activities are artisanal fishery, public services, diverse small-scale commercial activities and some cattle raising. The Yagán people constitute a nomad culture that has inhabited the southern end of the American continent at 56°S. They live in the coastal sectors, navigating the channels of Cabo de Hornos and the sub-antarctic archipelago region to the south of the Tierra del Fuego. Today it is the most threatened of the Chilean indigenous cultures. The Biosphere Reserve supports economic and human development through an 'alliance between science and tourism to promote sustainable development'. It also provides advice to stimulate the sustainable use of marine and silvoagricultural natural resources on which the extractive and productive activities are based that constitute the base of the local economy.
  Major ecosystem type   Temperate forest; Sub-polar evergreen rainforest; Coastal marine systems
  Major habitats & land cover types   Intertidal and sub-marine forests with brown seaweed Macrocystis pyrifera and Lessonia vadosa, L. flavescens and L. trabeculata; Intertidal zones with macroalgae communities dominated by Lessonia nigrescens and Durvillaea antartica; Intertidal zones and rocky bottoms formed by great quarry stones with D. antartica and L. nigrescens in exposed intertidal zones and with M. pyrifera, L. vadosa and L. flavescens in more protected areas; Intertidal and sub-tidal zones formed by fine sediments (sands and muds) dominated by Enteromorpha sp. and Ulva sp.; Intertidal and steep rocky subtidal zones with algae species such as Adenocystis utricularis, Porphira sp. and Polysiphonia sp.; Pelagic - demersal habitat.
  Location   55°15'S; 69°30'W (Central point)
54°09'S; 70°92'W (Northern limit)
54°67'S; 72°50'W (Western limit)
56°18'S; 67°28'W (Southern limit)
55°21'S; 66°06'W (Eastern limit)
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   4,884,273
  Core area(s)   1,347,417
  Buffer zone(s)   1,711,318.34 - terrestre: 399,831.14 (of which marine: 1,311,487.20)
  Transition area(s) when given   1,848,921.86 - terrestre: 193,373.04 (of which marine: 1,655,548.82)
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   about -500 to +2,234
  Year designated   2005
  Administrative authorities   Gobernación de la Provincia Antártica Chilena
  Brief description   The zonation protects a vast complex of unique ecosystems in the extreme south-western end of the American continent. This complex of ecosystems includes the subantarctic rain forests of Magellanic Chile dominated by the evergreen species Drimys winteri and Nothofagus betuloides, the last one which is endemic to this type of ecosystem. The complex of ecosystems includes tundra formations that also have endemic species of flora and fauna. The zonation scheme integrates marine-terrestrial conservation, protecting species that use both types of environments. Among them, various endangered species such as the sea cat (Lontra felina) and southern river otter (L. provocax) are recorded. In the coastal area, the zonation scheme allows for the protection of extensive meadows of brown seaweed and subantarctic kelp forests composed by species of Lessonia, Druvillea and/or Macrocystis. In the marine zones, the scheme protects benthic and pelagic species of seaweed, invertebrates and vertebrates, among which several species of cetaceaes. Above all, the present zonation scheme is new for Chile in the sense that it is protecting an integrated system of marine and terrestrial habitats that contribute not only to the protection of species, but also of ecological and evolutionary processes of local, regional and global relevance. The core areas include the Cabo de Hornos and Agostini National Parks. The buffer zones include the high-priority sites for biodiversity conservation and the coastal strip around the terrestrial core areas. The disposition of the buffer zones also allows mitigating the impacts of the urban centres of Puerto Williams and Ushuaia (Argentina). Both the buffer zones and transition areas promote sustainable activities especially related to tourism and fishery, and only low impact activities are permitted in the buffer zones. The local population mainly lives in the transition area and works in tourism and artisanal fishery in the buffer zones and transition areas.

Long-term meteorological monitoring; Monitoring of water temperature in three rivers; Geomorphology and quantification of nutrients in rivers that have been affected by beavers, an introduced species; Studies on rodents (life cycles and ecology); permanent plots for the monitoring of the dynamics and changes in vegetation due to global climatic change; Studies on birds (DNA, diet, nesting, migration and behaviour); Expeditions for the collection of mosses and hepaticas that has resulted in the discovery of new species; Studies on aquatic ecology, terrestrial insects and invasive exotic species; Demographic and social studies; Poverty; Socio-economic factors; Publication on traditional knowledge; Studies on marine ecosystems: biological, geological and hydrological characterization of the coasts of Isla Navarion, Isla Hoste and Cabo de Hornos archipelago, Qualitative and quantitative studies on marine biodiversity, Qualitative studies of ficologia; Qualitative studies on faunal diversity in coastal areas; Quantitative studies on marine flora and fauna; Characterization of the algae Macrocystis pyrifera; Studies on the distribution and dynamics of exotic and invasive species in the coastal-marine area.
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   Abiotic factors, climate, geology, geomorphology, global change, hydrology, meteorology, monitoring/methodologies, nutrients.
  Biodiversity   Algae, alien/invasive/exotic/introduced species, biodiversity, biology, birds, coastal/marine, ecology, ethology, fauna, flora, freshwater/inland water, invertebrates/insects/spiders, island systems/islands, mammals, migrating populations/migration, monitoring/methodologies, species inventorying/inventory, vegetation studies/plant cover.
  Socio-economic   Cultural aspects, demography, poverty, social/socio-economic aspects, traditional practices/ethnology/traditional knowledge.
  Integrated monitoring   Impact and risk studies/Environmental impact.
  Contact address   Juan Ivanovich
Av. Bulnes 0309, Punta
  Web site

Last updated: 08/03/2011

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