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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

Last updated: 08/03/2011

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