Located in the Valparaíso Region of Chile, La Campana-Peñuelas Biosphere Reserve includes both La Campana National Park and Lago Peñuelas National Reserve. Forests here are habitats for the endangered Chilean Wine Palm and Peñuelas Lake provides drinking water for the cities of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar.
La Campana-Peñuelas Biosphere Reserve includes La Campana National Park and the Lago Peñuelas National Reserve. Declared by UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB) in 1985, the reserve has a surface area of 17,095 ha (66 sq miles) and is located in the Valparaíso Region of Chile.
The relief is gently undulating with some small hills and several gullies. The highest peaks are El Roble (2,222 m or 7,290 ft above sea level), and La Campana (1,920 m or 6,300 ft).
The major vegetation type is scrub land with Looser (Cryptocarya alba) a species of the family Lauraceae, boldea fragran (Peumus boldus), and winter's bark (Drimys winteri). Forests within the La Campana-Peñuelas Biosphere Reserve are habitats for the Chilean Wine Palm, Jubaea chilensis, an endangered palm. The area harbors one of the two relict stands of Chilean palm (Jubaea chilensis) and roble beech (Nothophagus obliqua) in Chile.
This Biosphere Reserve includes various ecosystems, all hosting endemic species:
- Hygrophyll forests are present in the lower parts ofgullies and on humid slopes, with species such as: Crinodendron patagua, Persea lingue, Dasyphyllumexcelsum and Beilschmiedia miersii;
- Sclerophyll forests hosting Cryptocarya alba, Boldo (Peumus boldus) and the Soapbark tree (Quillajasaponaria);
- Deciduous forests of Nothofagus maccrocarpa;
- Palm forests with the Chilean palm species Jubaea chilensis;
- Spiny shrub formations with Acacia caven and Schinus polygamus;
- Xerophyllous and chusquea culeou shrubland; Highland steppe shrubland; formation of large Puyasor "chaguales" (Puya chilensis, P. coerulea, P. berteroniana).
Although not very abundant, the fauna is diverse. Mammals include Culpeo (Dusicyon culpaeus) and Argentine grey foxes (D. griseus). Noteworthy birds are grey buzzard-eagle (Geranoetus melanoleucus), red-backed buzzard (Buteo polyosoma), and Chilean mockingbird (Mimus thenca).
The Peñuelas Lake consists of a permanent freshwater lake with marshes and grasslands associated to its shores, with semi-arid scrublands with plantations of introduced Pinus and Eucalyptus spp. The lake supplies water to the cities of Valparaiso and Viña del Mar.
There is also a body of water with a surface area covering 1,600 in good years, forming an important wetland for migratory birds and occasional resident ones, where 125 species of aquatic, riparian and terrestrial birds have been recorded.
The Biosphere Reserve is almost uninhabited (12 people in 1984). Activities carried out in this Biosphere Reserve are mainly of a recreational nature, with approximately 80,000 visitors per year, and also include environmental education.
La Campana National Park covers approximately 80 sq km (31 sq mi) and is home to one of the last palm forests of Jubaea chilensis (Chilean Wine Palm), which prehistorically had a much wider distribution than at present. Chilean Wine Palm groves occur in the Ocoa Valley. Other typical vegetation species occurring in the park include the Boldo, Litre, Peumo, Patagua, Winter's Bark and Lingue.
Another attraction is the Cerro La Campana, which lends its name to the park. In 1834 Charles Darwin climbed this mountain, during the second voyage of HMS Beagle.
The park is under the supervision of the Forest National Corporation, CONAF (Corporación Forestal Nacional) that belongs to the Department of Agriculture (Ministerio de Agricultura).
Lago Peñuelas National Reserve was created around Peñuelas Lake, a freshwater reservoir that provides drinking water to Valparaíso and Viña del Mar. The park, which is located in the Valparaíso Region of Chile, was declared a protected area in 1952 in order to protect the drainage of the Peñuelas reservoir and dam, built at the end of the 19th and beginning of the Twentieth century.
The park covers an area of 9,260 ha (22,880 acres) and is traversed by about 12 km (7.5 mi) of Chile Route 68, which is the main highway between Valparaíso and Santiago. Its elevation ranges between 337 and 613 m (1,100 and 2,000 ft) AMSL.
The flora of the reserve includes mixed forest, riparian scrub, and deciduous forest and thorny scrub. Exotic tree species are planted in the reserve, including Eucalyptus globulus and Pinus radiata.
A total of 120 bird species have been recorded in the reserve. Leopardus colocolo, Galictis cuja, Conepatus chinga, Lycalopex culpaeus and Lycalopex griseus are mammal species that can be found here.