Natural Heritage of Chile North, Central and South Zone

Basil Manning
Natural Heritage of Chile North, Central and South Zone

The natural heritage of Chile It encompasses all the important natural sites found in Chilean territory. Usually, the natural heritage of a country includes all its national parks, nature reserves and natural monuments that are within its borders..

Generally, natural monuments tend to have a reduced area of ​​territory, while national parks and nature reserves are much larger. Unlike the cultural heritage of a country, the natural heritage is characterized by having little human influence on its development. 

Article index

  • 1 North zone
    • 1.1 Pampa del Tamarugal
    • 1.2 National Reserve of Las Vicuñas
    • 1.3 Natural Monument of the Salar de Suirire
    • 1.4 Other important reserves in the region
  • 2 Downtown area
    • 2.1 Lake Peñuelas
    • 2.2 Rio de los Cipreses Nature Reserve
    • 2.3 Other important reserves in the region
  • 3 South zone
    • 3.1 Bernardo O'Higgins National Park
    • 3.2 Alerce Costero National Park
    • 3.3 Other important reserves in the region
  • 4 References

North Zone

Pampa del Tamarugal

The Pampa del Tamagural nature reserve is one of the most extensive reserves that this region of Chile has: it has more than 100,000 hectares of land area.

The name of this area is given by the tamarugo trees and, in turn, by the extensive tamarugo forest found in this region.

The natural tamarugo forest occupies 2,500 hectares of the reserve, while the plantations of this tree occupy almost 20,000.

Las Vicuñas National Reserve

Las Vicuñas is located in Arica and Parinacota, the northernmost province of Chilean territory. It is located just south of the Lauca National Park.

It is a region of irregular soil that presents small vegetation, very similar to that found in the Peruvian territory.

The region owes its name to the number of vicuñas that live in it. Vicuñas are animals with a structure similar to that of alpacas (even belonging to the same family) of small size and large amount of fur, which live in cold regions.

The reserve has large extensions of Andean steppes cut between each other by streams and rivers. The Lauca River runs through a large part of this natural reserve.

Salar de Suirire Natural Monument

This monument, also located in the Parinacota region, is found in the Andean region of Chile. Contains a large number of species of animals and plants native to the South American Andes.

In addition, the region is geographically recognized for the high presence of salt lakes. It is mainly a plain interspersed by several small lakes, pleasant to the eye..

It is a unique salt flat in Chile with a fairly high natural value for the country. For this reason it has been designated a Natural Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO..

Other important reserves in the region

-Lauca National Park.

-Los Flamencos National Park.

-La Portada National Park.

Downtown area

Lake Peñuelas

This lake was created by human intervention during the course of the 19th century, with the main objective of providing natural reserve water to all of Valparaíso. In addition, it served to promote the development of biodiversity in the region..

The growth of the area, both in diversity of flora and fauna, meant that it became a natural reserve of the country in 1950. In 1985 UNESCO named this area a World Biosphere Reserve.

The lake has become a common breeding ground for bird species that usually live near lakes, and the forest has been replanted several times to maintain the biological structure of the region..

Rio de los Cipreses Nature Reserve

This region owes its name to the tributary river that occupies a large part of its territorial extension. In addition, it presents one of the areas of the central Chilean Andes with the highest number of glaciers in the entire country.

This region contains several hectares of temperate forests in its lower elevation areas, while in the higher mountainous regions it has Andean vegetation and biodiversity..

Its great mountainous diversity makes it popular with climbers in the region, which is why it features several man-made trails that facilitate movement inside the mountains..

Other important reserves in the region

-Fray Jorge National Park.

-Laguna del Laja National Park.

-Ralco National Reserve.

-Rapa Nui National Park.

South Zone

Bernardo O'Higgins National Park

This national park is the largest natural reserve in Chile and is located in the south of the country, in the regions of Aysén and Magallanes.

One of the main reasons why this region is so important is because of the presence of glaciers. Among these is the Pío XI glacier, which has huge blocks of ice falling periodically.

With regard to its biodiversity, the region has forests of plants that grow exclusively in cold climates, as well as a number of Andean animals. It is also the last region in which the Chilean huemul is known to inhabit, an endangered species.

The region does not have significant rivers, but the sea penetrates along the coast towards the mountains, taking with it the melting ice of the glaciers.

Alerce Costero National Park

This area was considered a natural reserve mainly due to the large number of biological species that inhabit the territory. Its rivers and basins are an ideal habitat for countless species of fish.

Many of these species are in danger of extinction, so the special care given to them is essential to keep them alive..

Like other Chilean reserves, the Alerce Costero National Park presents a significant extension of Valdivian temperate forests.

In the area where these forests grow live several species of animals that are confined in this region to protect the biological stability of the local environment..

It is an area with a fairly stable climate, which has helped the development of thousands of endemic species of both flora and fauna. El Alerce, a natural monument of Chile, is also within the territory occupied by this national park.

Other important reserves in the region

-Nahuelbuta national park.

-Huerquehue national park.

-Malalcahuello National Reserve.

-Villarrica national park.


  1. Natural Heritage, Wikipedia in English, April 30, 2018. Taken from
  2. Natural Heritage, National Service of Cultural Heritage, (n.d.). Taken from
  3. List of World Heritage Sites in Chile, Wikipedia in English, February 19, 2018. Taken from
  4. Natural Heritage of Chile, Canal MAV Web, (n.d.). Taken from
  5. National Parks, Canal MAV Web, (n.d.). Taken from
  6. Natural Monuments, Canal MAV Web, (n.d.). Taken from
  7. Natural Reserves, Canal MAV Web, (n.d.). Taken from

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