A virtual continental island bounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Andes Mountains, and the Atacama Desert, the Chilean Winter Rainfall-Valdivian Forests harbors richly endemic flora and fauna.
The Araucaria tree has been declared a national monument in itself, protecting it from logging. The rare Andean cat, the mountain vizcacha, and the Andean condor can also be found in the hotspot.
Reptilian, amphibian, and freshwater fish endemism is also particularly high in this region.
Overgrazing, invasive species, and urbanization have all contributed to the destruction of the original habitat.
Major hydroelectric dams and the development of coastal areas to increase tourism are two specific problems facing the Chilean Winter Rainfall-Valdivian Forests.
†Recorded extinctions since 1500. *Categories I-IV afford higher levels of protection.
|Hotspot Original Extent (km²)
|Hotspot Vegetation Remaining (km²)
|Endemic Plant Species
|Endemic Threatened Birds
|Endemic Threatened Mammals
|Endemic Threatened Amphibians
|Human Population Density (people/km²)
|Area Protected (km²)
|Area Protected (km²) in Categories I-IV*
A virtual continental island bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the west, the Andes Mountains on the east, and the Atacama Desert in the north, the Chilean Winter Rainfall-Valdivian Forests Hotspot harbors richly endemic flora and fauna. The hotspot covers 397,142 km² of the central-northern part of the nation of Chile and the far western edge of Argentina, stretching from the Pacific coast to the crest of the Andean mountains. The hotspot encompasses about 40 percent of Chile’s land area and includes the offshore islands of San Félix and San Ambrosio and the Juan Fernández Islands.
The area of central-northern Chile is characterized by a winter-rainfall regime, while the northern part of southern Chile is characterized by rainfall all year round. The winter-rainfall area is divided almost equally between a typical Mediterranean-type climate area (155,000 km²) and a more arid area of winter-rainfall deserts (145,000 km²).
Vegetation types in the more northerly winter rainfall desert area include an extended band of coastal fog (camanchaca) desert and the more southerly inland desierto florido. Other vegetation types include coastal and inland matorral and savannas, deciduous forests and high-elevation alpine vegetation. On the lower western slopes of the Andes and the eastern slopes of the Coast Range, the typical matorral is open and contains a rich assemblage of endemic herbaceous and geophyte species. In the wetter climate of the western side of the Coast Range, the forests are closed. At higher elevations, the typical Mediterranean sclerophyllous vegetation grades up to Nothofagus forest. In addition, there is a small tongue of coastal rainforest along the southern coast from 39ºS southwards.