Chilean Winter Rainfall-Valdivian Forests

by Alessandra Moukarzel & Noy Kremer

Where are the Chilean Rainfall-Valdivian Forests located?

This rainforest is located in Chile, South America. It is an essential continental island which is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, the Andes Mountains and the Atacama Desert, the Chilean Winter Rainfall-Valdivian Forests harbors richly endemic flora and fauna. Temperate rain forests comprise a relatively narrow coastal strip between the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the southern Andes Mountains to the east, from roughly 37° to 48° south latitude. North of 42°, the Chilean coastal range  runs along the coast, and the north-south running Chilean Central Valley lies between the coastal range and the Andes. South of 42°, the coast range continues as a chain of offshore islands, including Chiloé Island and the Chonos Archipelago, while the "Central Valley" is submerged and continues as the Gulf of Corcovado.

 Ecosystems found in the Chilean Rainfall-Valdivian Forests:

              • Deciduous forests
              • Valdivian laurel-leaved forests
              • Northern Patagonian forests
              • Patagonian Andean forests

Vegetation types found in the Chilean Rainfall-Valdivia Forests:

    • Extended band of coastal fog (camanchaca
    • Coastal and inland matorral and savannah 
    • Deciduous forests
    • High-elevation alpine vegetation

Animals found in the Chilean Rainfall-Valdivia Forests:


Of the nearly 4,000 plants found in this hotspot, only half are endemic. These 

numbers represent about three-quarters of all Chilean plant species and endemics in only 40 percent of the land area. Birds

Characteristically, birds are not very well represented in this hotspot. The region's bird diversity includes just over 225 species. There are a dozen endemic bird species here, including three breeding species of petrel, and the region is considered a priority Endemic Bird Area by Birdlife International.


Mammal endemism is relatively low, with almost 70 species and only 15 endemics. There are, however, five endemic genera.


Endemism levels for both reptiles and amphibians are high. About two-thirds of the hotspot's more than 40 reptile species are endemic. A large number of these species are lizards, found at mid-to-high elevations.


Around three-quarters of the more than 40 amphibian species in the hotspot are endemic. Additionally, one family and five genera are endemic to the hotspot:Telmatobufo, with three species, all threatened; Rhinoderma, with two species; and Insuetophrynus, Caudiverbera, and Hylorina, each with a single species.

Freshwater Fish

The hotspot has a relatively sma

ll fish fauna. Nearly 20 percent of the region’s fish species are relicts of Gondwanan groups and are also found in southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Example of food web:

Human Activities and Threats

In the Valdivian Forests, forest cutting for timber and fuelwood has been an ongoing human activity which is ruining parts of the forest. Another human threat to the chilean valdivian forests are forest fires. Fires are not a common part of this ecosystem, therefore when there is a fire, the plants and animals are not adapted to its effects. Between the 1970s and 1990s, an estimated 360-600 km² were burned each year in this region. The illegal trade and export of native species within the forests is also a human activity that is causing the ecosystem to be peril because the species are not able to adapt well which can lead to extinction in that species. Urbanization is also a threat and two examples of that are: development of coastal areas for tourism and the construction of highways and hydroelectric complexes. These human activities affect the area ecologically because the ecosystem is getting highly affected. The ecosystem can be in threat of serious damage if the human activities, like forest fires for example continue. The human activities also affect the area economically because if the ecosystem will be damaged, then tourists won't want to come visit, which will make the economic aspect go lower.

Conservation Efforts

12.8% of the forest area is under official protection by the International Union for Conse

rvation of Nature, also known as the IUCN. The protected areas 

include national parks, national reserves, national monuments, and nature sanctuaries that are all part of the valdivian forest. All Araucaria trees are under protection as well. Although the area that is pr

otected is not that large, it will help maintain biodiversity in the near/far future.  Almost all the land not currently included in government protected areas is privately owned, and there is no public land available for new protected areas. The long term biodiversity conservation in the Chilean winter rainfall - valdivian forests are up to the government, the private sector, and individual citizens cooperation. The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with the CI's Global Conservation Fund, the World Wildlife Fund and local conservation organizations, had an open auction for 600Km² of biologically rich temperate rainforest on November of 2003. Part of that land will be managed with all three organizations, and the rest of the land will be managed and owned by a new Chilean conservation organization.

What We Can Do

1. We need to consume less and be more mindful about what we consume. We need to leverage our purchasing power to help protect biodiversity by consuming products that do not harm the environment. Ecolabels enable consumers to determine which products are green, safe, and environmentally sustainable. Examples include fair-trade, USDA Organically Seal and etc. 

2. Learn as much as you can about nature and share your knowledge with others. Visit ecological interpretation centres, natural history museums and native fish hatcheries to study local ecosystems. Volunteer at an organization that focuses on conservation or restoration of habitat. 

3. Encourage and support local government initiatives that protect habitat and decrease threats to biodiversity.

4. Encourage community meetings within your neighbourhood to discuss the environment and come up with solutions to protect the area you live in. 

It is necessary to keep in mind that these solutions are all based on individual initiative. In order to fully prevent the loss of biodiversity it would depend on the implementation of policies and legislations mainly taken by the government. We suggest that if steps are to be taken from government initiatives that they would be advised by environmental experts and scientists.


    Arroyo, M.T.K., Marticorena, C., Matthei, O., & Cavieres, L. 2000. Plant invasions in Chile: Present patterns and future predictions. In H.A. Mooney & R. Hobbs. (Eds.), Invasive Species in a Changing World. pp. 385-421. New York: Island Press.

    "Chilean Winter Rainfall-Valdivian Forests." -. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2016.

    Fuentes, E.R., Aviles, R. & Seguro, A. 1990. The natural vegetation of a heavily man-transformed landscape: The savanna of central Chile. Interciencia 15:293-295.

    Hoffmann, A., Arroyo, M.T.K., Liberona, F., Muñoz, M. & Watson, J. 1998. Plantas Altoandinas en la Flora Silvestre de Chile.         Santiago: Ediciones Fundación Claudio Gay. 

    "Southern South America: Chile and Argentina." World Wildlife Fund, n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2016.

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