Cabo de Hornos Biosphere Reserve, the first nominated in Chile in more than 20 years, is located in the extreme south of the American continent, comprising marine areas, islands and forested coast. It includes an extensive and remote area of temperate forests, the sub-antarctic or sub-polar forests of Magellanic Chile, that recently have been identified as one of the 37 most pristine ecoregions in the world.
The core areas are constituted of the Cabo de Hornos National Park and Alberto de Agostini National Park, which in spite of their proximity, are not interconnected. The biosphere reserve will contribute to initiate scientific education, research and conservation programs in both national parks and establish a biological corridor between them.
This ecoregion corresponds to one of the unique areas where non-fragmented or altered temperate forests are conserved. The Archipelago of Cabo de Hornos is one of the few insular groups that remain free of human impact.
The mosaic of terrestrial ecosystems includes evergreen broadleaf forests, deciduous forests, alpine habitats with formations of cushion plants and lichens, a complex of tundra formations ranging from Juncaceae wetlands to Sphagnum peat bogs, glaciers and snowdrifts, and a series of freshwater ecosystems.
These ecosystems are located in an insular system, in the middle of an intricate system of fjords, channels, estuaries and bays. In this regional heterogeneity several types of intertidal systems are distinguished with extensive meadows and belts of brown seaweed (Macrocystis pyrifera).
Recent analysis has shown that the sub-antarctic ecoregion of Magellanic Chile includes the greatest diversity of non-vascular floral species in Chile, and constitutes a hotspot of bryophyte diversity.
The region to the south of 50°S also represents a hotspot of invertebrate and marine mammal diversity, with cetaceans such as the Peale's dolphin (Lagenorhynchus australis) and black dolphin (Cephalorhynchus eutropia), and occasional visits by killer whales (Orcinus orca) and antarctic minke whales (Balaenoptera bonaerensis). The presence of penguins are remarkable, principally the Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) and the rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes crestatus).
Cabo de Hornos Biosphere Reserve represents the southernmost territory in the world with pre-Columbian populations, since the territory corresponds to the ancestral territory of the Yagán people. Some 2.200 people live in the transition area with a concentration in Puerto Williams.
The resident civil population mainly includes the indigenous community of Yagán descending from the first colonists. The main economic activities are artisanal fishery, public services, diverse small-scale commercial activities and some cattle raising.
The Yagán people constitute a nomad culture that has inhabited the southern end of the American continent at 56°S. They live in the coastal sectors, navigating the channels of Cabo de Hornos and the sub-antarctic archipelago region to the south of the Tierra del Fuego. Today it is the most threatened of the Chilean indigenous cultures.
The Cabo de Hornos Biosphere Reserve supports economic and human development through an 'alliance between science and tourism to promote sustainable development'. It also provides advice to stimulate the sustainable use of marine and silvoagricultural natural resources on which the extractive and productive activities are based that constitute the base of the local economy.
Cabo de Hornos Biosphere Reserve is part of the Magallanes Sub-Polar (or Sub-Antarctic) Evergreen Rainforest, with a mosaic of contrasting ecosystems and unique and singular characteristics on a world level.
This biosphere reserve is part of the Magallanes Sub-Polar (or Sub-Antarctic) Evergreen Rainforest, with a mosaic of contrasting ecosystems and unique and singular characteristics on a world level.
The most representative type of ecosystems are: Magallanes sub-Polar Evergreen Rainforests, sub-Antarctic Antarctic Beech (Nothofagus Antarctica) forests, Deciduous Lenga Beech forests, MixedLenga Beech and Magallanes Nothofagus dombeyi forests.
Ecological characteristics include high Andean habitats and Magallanes tundra complex. The marine ecosystems contain a mosaic of coastal and marine areas representative of the Sub-Antarctic region, favoring its biodiversity. The Sub-Antarctic eco-region includes a very great diversity of Chilean non-vascular flora and is a hotspot for bryophyte diversity on a world level, with over three hundred hepatic species and over 450 species of moss. These 750 bryophyte species represent over 5% of the bryophytes known all over the world.