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Chile - Country Profile

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Status and Trends of Biodiversity

Overview

While Chile’s biodiversity does not compare with the richness of tropical areas, it is singular in that it includes a large number of endemic species due to its geographic situation isolated by the Andes, the Pacific Ocean, the Atacama desert and the polar region. As a result of its different latitudes, from subtropical to subantarctic, the country also boasts a large variety of ecosystems. A study carried out in the nineties estimated that Chile’s biodiversity includes more than 29,000 species. The amphibians and the reptiles best illustrate the large degree of endemism, of which there are 78% and 59% respectively. By contrast, only 2% of the bird species are endemic. Existing research concludes that the number of threatened species varies from one region to another. The largest amount of threatened species is found in the central and southern regions. However, mammals are threatened to the same degree in all regions of the country. Looking at the situation from a broader perspective, the threats extend to landscape and ecosystem levels.

Number and Extent of Protected Areas

178 units covering a surface of approximately 155.212 km2.

Percentage of Forest Cover

21% of which 18% corresponds to natural forests and 3% to plantations.

National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan

Major features of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

Chile’s national biodiversity strategy includes three distinct target dates. Short-term measures (by 2006) provide for the protection of 50% of priority areas identified in the Regional Strategies on Biodiversity with a view to ensuring the protection of at least 10% of the areas of each ecosystem. Medium-term measures (by 2010) aim at the effective and official protection of 100% of priority areas, including a management plan for conservation and a responsible institution. Long-term measures aim at having the national network of marine and terrestrial protected areas effective by 2015, including the institutional framework and management plans. The plan of action of the national strategy includes measures on conservation; species conservation and genetic resources; promotion of sustainable practices; measures for comprehensive management; strengthening of institutional coordination; and public participation.
 

Implementation of the Convention

Measures Taken to Achieve the 2010 Target

Chile has integrated the 2010 biodiversity target as a national target. Indeed, the national strategy for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, approved in December 2003 by the National Commission on the Environment (CONAMA), establishes as its second objective that actions will be taken to ensure the long term-protection of biodiversity (including species, ecosystems and genes), promoting the protection of at least 10% of each type of ecosystem before 2010. A national policy on the conservation of threatened species has been in place since 2005, and the classification of species that are suspected of being under threat in accordance with IUCN criteria has been carried out, guided by a specific regulatory scheme in place. In addition, national policies on protected areas and on wetlands have also been in place since 2005, which will assist Chile towards the fulfillment of the 2010 target, through the implementation of plans of actions currently under development.

Initiatives in Protected Areas

Under the national action plan, the strategic focal area 1 provides for the establishment of a national network of protected land and marine areas. The network will include various public and private sub-systems. By 2010, a total of 46 territories is expected to be under legal protection, covering an area of 1,5 million hectares. At 2010, progress will be made in order to meet the goal of reaching 10% of the area of relevant ecosystems to be under protection by different instruments. At 2006, 4 marine protected areas were already established. At 2010, progress will also have been made in the constitution of the national network integrating the various sub-systems. On this, a project started in 2006, funded by the GEF, will assist the Government in the design and implementation of the national network of protected areas. By 2005, 28 priority sites were already under official protection.

Initiatives for Article 8(j)

The existing policies and programs to address indigenous issues do not have a specific focus on biological diversity. Rather, they cut across different areas of interest. However, a focus on article 8(j) under the national plan of action is under discussion. Legislation no. 19253 refers to the duty of society in general and of the State to protect, respect, and promote the development of indigenous peoples, their culture and communities, and to protect their lands. An analysis is being carried out of relevant instruments affecting indigenous peoples, including the Akwe: Kon Guidelines with respect to impact assessment for developments in lands and marine areas traditionally occupied by them. With regard to participation, legislation on marine coastal areas of indigenous peoples establishes a right to exercise customary practices on coastal resources. Concerned indigenous populations are invited to participate in the management of protected areas in their regions, such as in the case of the Alto Loa national reserve, which is managed jointly by indigenous representatives and a public entity. Legislation no. 19253 establishes an obligation for the public administration and entities to listen to, and take into account, the views of indigenous organizations recognized under the legislation when dealing with issues of interest to them. The same legislation has also permitted an increased participation of indigenous women in economic activities and in decision-making.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme