The Annotated Ramsar List: Chile

17/10/2011

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The Annotated Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance

CHILE / CHILI

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The Convention on Wetlands came into force for Chile on 27 November 1981. Chile presently has 12 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of 358,989 hectares.

site; date of designation; region, province, state; surface area; coordinates
site; date de désignation; région, province, état; superficie; coordonnées
sitios; fecha de designación; región, provincia, estado; área; coordenadas

Bahía Lomas. 06/12/04; Región de Magallanes y Antártica Chilena, 58,946 ha; 52º38'S 069º10'W. Located in northern Tierra del Fuego Island, Ramsar's second southernmost site lies on the border with Argentina and faces the Magellan Strait. It features the largest intertidal flats in Chile, fronting a 69 km long beach and several salt marshes. The bay is renowned for its high concentrations of migratory shorebirds from October to March, with records of more than 41,000 Red Knots Calidris canutus, over 88% of the population in the Americas; 4,500 Hudsonian Godwits Limosa haemastica, 23% of the global population; 12,000 White-rumped Sandpipers Calidris fuscicollis, 3% of global population, as well as near threatened species such as the Magellanic Plover Pluvianellus socialis and the Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis. Precipitation is scarce and vegetation is typical of the Patagonian steppe, dominated by the grasses Festuca pallescens and F. gracillima. Large cetaceans have frequently stranded in the flats, with 21 species recorded. Human population is very scarce and sheep grazing is the main activity, as well as oil extraction from two platforms within the flats. The impact of pollution from oil spills from large vessels as well as from the platforms is a concern, but fortunately there is large recirculation of water thanks to the prevailing currents. Ramsar site no. 1430. Most recent RIS information: 2004.

Carlos Anwandter Sanctuary. 27/07/81; Región X; 4,877 ha; 39º41’S 073º11’W. Nature and Scientific Research Sanctuary. An estuarine area of the lower Río Cruces, its tributaries and riparian zone of emergent marshes, grassland and islands, subject to tectonic subsidence. The site supports numerous waterbirds, including two endangered species, and provides nesting areas for a stable population of 3,000 individuals of the vulnerable Cygnus melanocoryphus. Human activities include livestock grazing, tourism, and use of the river for transportation. Ramsar site no. 222. [photos] Most recent RIS information: 1998.

Complejo Lacustre Laguna del Negro Francisco y Laguna Santa Rosa. 02/12/96; Región III; 62,460 ha; 27º17'S 069º08'W. National Park. The Ramsar Site includes the area surrounding two brackish water lagoons united by the Pantanillo-Cienaga Redonda biological corridor. The site acts as an important regulator of the biotic and abiotic elements forming the ecological web of this Andean ecosystem by supporting species such as the Andean gull (Larus serranus) and the Vicuña (Vicugna vicugna) catalogued as vulnerable under Chilean policy, as well as at least 1% of the total population of the Andean Flamingo (Phoenicoparrus andinus), James's Flamingo (Phoenicoparrus jamesi) and the Horned Coot (Fulica cornuta). There are vestiges of pre-Hispanic occupation in the surrounding area, as well as human activities which include water extraction for mining activities and tourism. The Ramsar Site has a management plan for the areas included in the Nevado Tres Cruces National Park. Ramsar Site no. 877. Most recent RIS information: 2011. Español, fotos

Humedal el Yali. 02/12/96; Región V; 520 ha; 33º50’S 071º38’W. National Reserve. The most important wetlands in central and northern Chile due to their richness in species and abundance of aquatic birdlife. The site provides important feeding, nesting and refuge areas for numerous species of migratory birds. A total of 115 species of birds (including threatened, vulnerable or rare species), representing approximately 25% of all birdlife found in Chile, frequent the site. The area consists of the El Yali marsh, several brackish lakes, and two artificial saltmarshes. Meadow vegetation predominates. Over-extraction of salt draws water off the marsh and the lagoon. Surrounding areas are subject to increasing urbanization. Ramsar site no. 878. Most recent RIS information: 1996.

Parque Andino Juncal. 22/05/10; Valparaiso; 13,796 ha; 32°55'S 070°03'W. This High Andean site is located in Chile’s central zone on the Andes mountain range between 2500 and above 5000 m altitude. It comprises a hydric network counting rivers, streams, glaciers, Andean vegas, and underground springs. The area has extreme climatologic conditions characterized by intense cold, snow, drought and high radiation. These environmental conditions confer the site high ecological value because it supports an important group of fauna and flora including endemic species such as the small-tailed snake (Tachymenis chilensis) as well as endangered species such as the matuasto (Phymaturus flagellifer), a large number of migratory birds and higher vertebrates. The ecosystem in the Ramsar Site Juncal Andean Park is representative of the Mediterranean shrubland region; unique in South America and considered an endangered ecosystem by World Bank and WWF. Among its main threats are:  extensive livestock rearing, mining and industrial development. The Juncal Andean Park lies within the “Mineral Cordillera” private area, where its main land uses are recreation, education and scientific research. Ramsar site no. 1909. Most recent RIS information: 2010. Español

Salar de Aguas Calientes IV. 14/08/09; Région de Antogafasta; 15,529 ha; 24º59’S 068º38’W. This High Andean site (3,665m a.s.l.) is located in the deserted area of the Central Dry Puna of northern Chile. The saline lakes (salt pans) and azonal vegetation (meadows and bofedales) – wetlands caused by groundwater upwelling – sustain a rich and abundant wildlife. Similarly to the neighboring Ramsar site “Salar de Pujsa”, this wetland is an staging area (feeding and roosting) for interhemispheric migratory birds, such as sandpipers (Calidris bairdii, C. melanotos, C. himantopus, Catoptrophorus semipalmatus), yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca, T. flavipes), and Wilson's Phalarope (Steganopus tricolor). Furthermore, the three high Andean flamingo species (Andean, Chilean and James’s), Darwin's Rhea (Pterocnemia pennata), Andean Goose (Chloephaga melanoptera), and Puna Tinamou (Tinamotis pentlandii), as well as the mammals short-tailed chinchilla (Chinchilla brevicaudata) and vicuña (Vicugna vicugna), are present in the area. Currently there are mining concessions for salt extraction, which implies a conservation threat, either directly due to salt extraction from the surface or indirectly due to groundwater extraction. Ramsar site no. 1870. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Salar de Pujsa. 14/08/09; Región de Antofagasta; 17,397 Ha; 23°11’S 067°32’W. Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos. This High Andean site (4,530m a.s.l.) is comparable to an oasis in the desert – although it is located in the deserted area of the Central Dry Puna of northern Chile, groundwater flows to the surface naturally, which allows the formation of saline lakes (salt pans) and azonal vegetation (meadows and bofedales) that sustain the regional wildlife. The site constitutes one of the most important wetlands for the conservation of high Andean flamingos (Andean, Chilean and James’s), which are relatively abundant in the site (more than 1% of the global population, in all cases). It is also a staging area (feeding and roosting) for interhemispheric migratory birds, such as sandpipers, yellowlegs, and Wilson's Phalarope. In addition, the site stands out by the presence of large groups of austral vicuña (Vicugna vicugna vicugna), which graze in the meadows around the lake. The native communities Toconao and Talabre use the meadows and bofedales for grazing livestock (lamas and alpacas) and harvesting medicinal plants. Recently these communities, supported by the public sector, have started to take part in tourism activities in order to increase traditional household incomes. The Salar de Pujsa lies within the Atacama site, one of the 14 priority sites of the Wetland Network of Importance for Conservation of High-Andes Flamingos in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru. Part of the Ramsar site is protected under the National Reserve Los Flamencos. Ramsar site no. 1871. Most recent RIS information: 2009.

Salar de Surire. 02/12/96; Región I; 15,858 ha; 18º51’S 069º00’W. A saltmarsh and saline lakes subject to seasonal fluctuations set in the High Andean steppe. Vegetation is determined primarily by the relief and the water availability. Numerous non-metallic minerals (calcium and boric salts) are found around the saltmarsh. One of the four most important places in Chile for nesting flamingos. The site supports various high altitude species of flora and fauna which are endangered or rare. Human activities include livestock grazing, borax mining, and tourism. Ramsar site no. 873. Most recent RIS information: 1996.

Salar de Tara. 02/12/96; Región de Antofagasta; 96,439 ha; 22º56’S 067º15’W. This High Andean site encompasses a brackish lagoon that has maintains itself with the superficial waters that flow from the high mountains and volcanoes that surround it. This water body is important as nesting grounds for at least two flamingo species including Phoenicoparrus jamesi and Phoenicopterus chilensis and is habitat to many other waterfowl species, resident and migratory, such as the mammal species Vicugna vicugna and Lagidium viscasia. Among the land uses are the conservation of natural resources, as well as tourism and the use of the surrounding grounds by the communities for grazing and collection of medicinal plants. The area is partially included in Los Flamencos National Reserve, which has a Participative Management Plan in place, and is included in the National System of Protected Areas of the State. Salar de Tara falls under the IV Management Category of the IUCN (Habitat/Species Management Area). The site has been extended from 5,443 ha to 96,439 ha since its designation in 1996. Ramsar site no. 875. Most recent RIS information: 2010.

Salar del Huasco. 02/12/96; Región I; 6,000 ha; 20º18’S 068º50’W. Seasonal, brackish lagoons and sparsely vegetated saltmarsh. Surrounding areas consist of five High Andean, sub-desert steppe vegetation types. An important group of flamingos is present at the site. Human activities include small-scale ranching and mining in the surrounding area. The saltmarsh is a source of rites and myths in the Aymara culture. A plan for groundwater extraction to supply the city of Iquique is pending. Ramsar site no. 874. Most recent RIS information: 1996.

Santuario de la Naturaleza Laguna Conchalí. 02/02/04; Región IV; 34 ha; 31º53'S 071º30'W. Nature Sanctuary, Private Reserve. A brackish coastal lagoon representative of wetlands in central Chile, where the wildlife of the Atacama-Sechura Desert and Chilean Matorral ecoregions meet, a key staging area for migratory birds along the central Chilean coast. A creek feeds freshwater to the lagoon, and during periods of high rainfall, the barrier island is flooded and the lagoon becomes an estuary. Saltmarshes are mainly composed of coastal salt grass (Distichlis spicata), alkali seaheath (Frankenia salina), and Sarcocornia peruviana. There are coastal dunes, coastal shrub-steppe vegetation, and coastal Mediterranean shrub, the latter of high conservation priority. The Coscoroba Swan Coscoroba coscoroba, White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi, endemic Chilean Mockingbird Mimus thenca, and Tropidurid lizard Liolaemus zapallarensis are noteworthy species of the site. Five endemic fish species are found, including Odontesthes brevianalis and Mugil sp. The Pelambres copper mining company purchased the area in 1997, and the site was cleaned, fenced and is undergoing a restoration process. Footpaths, observatories and information panels have been placed to attract ecotourism and carry out environmental education. The mining port nearby has a contingency plan in place to avoid impacts on the site and there are no major threats currently affecting the area. The University of Chile is carrying out a monitoring and management plan. Ramsar Site no. 1374. Most recent RIS information: 2004.

Sistema Hidrológico de Soncor del Salar de Atacama. 02/12/96; Región de Antofagasta; 67,133 ha; 23°18’S 068°10’W. Located in the catchment area of Salar de Atacama, this site is characteristic for presenting a crust of different types of salts, mainly chlorides and sulphates. There is also a hydrological system conformed by a series of superficial channels and lagoons, that together constitute a perfect habitat for waterfowl, many of which are endangered such as the three High Andean flamingo species Phoenicopterus chilensis, Phoenicoparrus jamesi y Phoenicoparrus andinus. This last species is found in the Barros Negros, Chxas and Puilar Lagoons of this site, being their most important reproductive center in the World. These lagoons also represent an important area for resting for inter-hemispheric waterfowl in their migration, such as the species Calidris bairdii, Steganopus tricolor, among others. Sistema Hidrológico de Soncor is located in the National Reserve Los Flamencos, and the main land use focuses in the conservation of natural resources, the public use and recreation in natural spaces. Among the negative impacts that affect this area are the following: uncontrolled tourism, use of underground water for the production of non-metallic mining activities, and the extraction of flamingo eggs. The site is included in the Participative Management Plan of the National Reserve Los Flamencos, and falls under the Management Category IV of IUCN (Habitat/Species Management Area). The site has been extended from 5,016 ha to 67,133 ha since its designation in 1996. Ramsar Site no. 876. Most recent RIS information: 2010.

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