The Minister of the Environment, Maisa Rojas, chaired the Council of Ministers for Sustainability and Climate Change, which this afternoon approved the creation of four new protected areas for Chile, including the Desierto Florido National Park, thus strengthening the government’s commitment to the protection of this key ecosystem and natural phenomenon.
The new Desierto Florido National Park is located in the Atacama Region and has an area of approximately 57,000 hectares. It will ensure official protection with the highest environmental standard existing in the country -national park-, which will allow for the conservation of the highly valuable flora and fauna that exists in the area.
This protected area of public land will protect the flowering phenomenon that occurs in the Atacama desert, the driest in the world, where about 200 species appear, many of which are endemic. This area is also home to more than 40 types of birds, another 17 mammals and 8 reptiles in the threatened category; associated with the phenomenon of flowering and vegetative activation by seeds and propagules which,
for most of the year they remain dormant.
The Minister of the Environment, Maisa Rojas, appreciated this milestone and underlined that “the flowering of the desert in northern Chile is a unique event in the world, of great international interest, and the State has a duty to protect it considering that, in moreover, in its total geographical expression, more than 200 species of plants grow, many of which are endemic, that is, they are not found elsewhere”.
He added that “the protection of biodiversity and our natural heritage must be a priority. Both in Chile and across the planet, we are facing a crisis of severe biodiversity loss. Last week I actively attended COP15 in Montreal where countries agreed to protect 30% of the planet. This announcement goes in that direction.
The proposal for the Desierto Florido National Park was jointly elaborated and articulated in recent months between the ministries of the Environment, Heritage, Agriculture and the State Forestry Corps (Conaf).
The Minister of National Assets, Javiera Toro, was specially invited to attend today’s session, as his portfolio was the one that transferred the land for the new park. After the vote, he stressed the importance of protecting the soils of the Atacama Desert where this desert flower phenomenon occurs, and stressed that this “will be the 44th National Park in the country, which reflects that as a government we are advancing in protection of the environment, as entrusted to us by the President, Gabriel Boric”.
For his part, the director of CONAF, Christian Little, commented that “the creation of this national park responds to an urgency of the state and to the commitment of President Boric’s program, to guarantee the conservation of unique ecosystems in the world, respecting thus the international standards on the conservation of biodiversity.
More protected areas
In the session of the Council, the Secretaries of State approved three other protected areas. These are the Tres Cruces Natural Monument and the Natural Oasis of the Dense Fog Oasis and the Sasso River.
The Tres Cruces natural monument is located in Paihuano, in the Coquimbo region, and covers an area of 708 hectares. It houses valuable paleontological resources, as well as endemic species of flora and fauna in the conservation category.
The Oasis de Niebla Punta Gruesa Nature Sanctuary is located in Iquique, in the Tarapacá region, and covers an area of approximately 29.4 hectares. It is home to one of the last living populations of the Copao de Iquique, an endangered species of cactus. It is also a habitat for coastal desert fauna, with species such as lizards, long-eared mice and llacas, among others.
This sanctuary is a concrete contribution to the recovery, conservation and management plan (RECOGE) of the coastal flora of northern Chile. The privately owned Río Sasso Natural Sanctuary is located in the municipality of Monte Patria, Coquimbo region, and is covers an area of 14,000 hectares. In its extension there are high Andean wetlands, rocky glaciers and the source of the Sasso river. Associated with this, endemic flora and fauna, such as yellow-eared mice, jackfruit and reptiles.
It should be remembered that the Council of Ministers for Sustainability and Climate Change is a body led by the Ministry of the Environment, and which sees the participation of the Ministries of Finance, Economy, Energy, Education, Transport, Public Works, Health, Agriculture, Housing, Social Development, Mining and Science.