Southeastern South America: Central Chile

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The Chilean matorral constitutes a 100 km-wide strip extending along the central part of the Chilean coast. The region has various endemic plant species with affinities to the tropics, the Antarctic and the Andes. About 95% of the plant species are Chilean endemic, including Gomortega keule, Pitavia punctata, Nothofagus alessandrii and Jubaea chilensis. The Chilean matorral has several threatened plant species; some endangered species are Adiantum gertrudis, Avellanita bustillosii and Beilschmiedia berteroana. There are seven endemic birds found at altitudes ranging from rocky slopes to arid scrub. The ecoregion has been severely affected by fire, mining, logging, garbage dumps, urbanization, and pollution of air, water and soil. Unfortunately this is the least protected region in Chile.

  • Scientific Code
  • Ecoregion Category
  • Size
    57,300 square miles
  • Status
  • Habitats


Location and General Description

Biodiversity Features

Current Status

Types and Severity of Threats

Justification of Ecoregion Delineation
This long and narrow ecoregion is bound on the weste by the Pacific Ocean and on the east by the southern Andes. This ecoregion represents the transitional habitat between the ultra-dry Atamacama Desert to the north, and the moist Valdivian temperate forests to the south. The northern linework follows Simmonetti and Montenegro (1994) who delineate the Atacama Desert, and the southern linework originated from expert opinion during several priority setting workshops for the Valdivian ecoregion complex (Valdivia, Chile, April 19-21, 1999 and Concepción, Chile, March 24, 2000). Justification for this ecoregion can be found in its many endemic plants and unique species associations (Mittermeier at al. 1999; WWF & IUCN 1997).

Simmonetti, J.A. and G. Montenegro. 1994. Conservation and use of biodiversity of the arid and semiarid zones of Chile. Presented at the International Workshop "Conservación y uso sostenible de la biodiversidad en zonas áridas y semiáridas de América Latina", March 1994, Guadalajara, Mexico. Unpublished document

Mittermeier, R., N. Myers, and C.G. Mittermeier. 1999. Hotspots: earth’s biologically richest and most endangered terrestrial ecoregions. CEMEX/Conservation International, Mexico City. Pp. 430.

WWF and IUCN. 1997. Centres of plant diversity. A guide and strategy for their conservation. Volume 3: The Americas. IUCN Publications Unit, Cambridge, U.K.

Prepared by: Claudia Locklin
Reviewed by: Not yet reviewed