Chile Coastal Wetland Sanctuaries

Chile declares Coastal Wetlands as Sanctuaries

Three new coastal wetlands in the province of Chiloé, Los Lagos Region, in Chile were declared a Nature Sanctuary by the Ministry of the Environment (MMA), adding 311.5 of protected hectares. The decrees were published in the Official Gazette.

 

Chile declares three new natural sanctuaries in the Isla de Chiloé. These are the Bay of Curaco de Vélez, Bay of Quinchao and Putemún coastal wetlands.

 

The new sanctuaries -which are part of the National Plan for the Protection of Wetlands (PNPH)- are within a portfolio of wetlands located on the Isla Grande de Chiloé that was designed to protect the biodiversity and ecosystem services of that area. The humedales are home to various resident and migratory birds.

The Minister of the Environment, Maisa Rojas, highlighted the news and pointed out that “this declaration will allow us to contribute to the fulfillment of the commitments acquired by Chile within the framework of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC, Paris Agreement) and the Strategy Long-Term Climate Change, instruments recognized in the Framework Law on Climate Change.” The Secretary of State added that “it is essential that we continue to advance in the protection and care of our ecosystems that are key to mitigating and adapting to climate change, the well-being of people and also to combat the serious crisis of biodiversity loss that affects to the planet.”

 

 

In updating its NDCs, Chile committed to protecting at least 20 coastal wetlands by 2025 and adding another 10 by 2030.

Curaco de Vélez Bay Wetland

This coastal wetland -of 59.7 hectares- integrates the ecosystems of intertidal plain and marsh that provides shelter and food to the biodiversity of resident and migratory aquatic birds that are present. For this reason, it has received the international recognition of “Important Bird Conservation Area (IBAs),” and “Site of Hemispheric Importance” from the Hemispheric Network of Shorebird Reserves (WHSRN).

 

Santuario Curaco de Velez. Image source: FCMarina Chile.

 

This ecosystem has a very important biological wealth. It provides habitat for different species and an abundant benthic fauna.

Within the group of resident birds, the black-necked swan stands out, a charismatic species for the community of Curaco de Vélez, endemic to South America and with conservation problems. While in the group of migratory birds, the straight-billed curlew stands out.

 

Santuario Curaco de Velez. Image source: FCMarina Chile.

 

On the other hand, various human activities of a small-scale productive nature are carried out, such as the harvesting and cultivation of algae and marine invertebrates, which in many cases form a fundamental part of local economies.

Quinchao Bay Wetland

This coastal wetland -of 102.8 hectares- is located within Quinchao Bay, where two micro-basins flow from the interior of the island, through which fresh water enters the wetland.

An important and diverse set of wild, resident and migratory birds lives in the place. The Chilean flamingo and the straight-billed curlew are migratory shorebirds that visit the wetland to feed during their non-breeding season. There is also a significant number of aquatic birds residing in the wetland such as the little jergón duck, mallard, black-necked swan, queltehue, pilpilén, Dominican gull, cahuil gull and flightless quetru duck.

 

Humedal Bahía de Quinchao. Image Source: FCM Chile.

 

The significant biological productivity of this coastal wetland has earned it international recognition as an important place for bird conservation, as an IBA’s (Important Birds Areas) and RHRAP (Hemispheric Network of Shorebird Reserves) site.

 

Bahia de Quinchao. Image Source: Municipalidad de Quinchao.

 

The Quinchao coastal wetland is also an important site for the development of human activities, such as the collection of seaweed and shellfish for family consumption.

Putemún Coastal Wetland

The Putemún wetland -of 149 hectares- is one of the most important for migratory birds. This wetland is home to around 100 species of both aquatic and terrestrial birds, highlighting the presence of migratory species that nest in the place every spring and autumn, being an important resting place and food for migratory birds such as the Straight-billed Curlew (Limosa haemastica) and the Curlew (Numenius phaeopus) during the spring-summer season, as well as the Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis) during the winter season.

 

Humedales Chiloe, Chile. Image source: Humedales Chiloe.

 

As for the flora, there are about 21 halophytic species, most of them native, and also communities: blue reeds and marine reeds. Regarding the marine flora, you can find pelillo, lamilla or sea lettuce and huiro.

 

Humedales Chiloe, Chile. Image source: Humedales Chiloe.

 

In relation to fauna, the most diverse group corresponds to birds. Some common resident or nesting species are: the great jergón duck, small jergón, mallard and lately, black-necked swan. Among the migratory species, curlews, sandpipers and some plovers stand out, such as the common curlew and the straight-billed curlew, or the white sandpipers and playero de Baird. The area stands out for receiving around 400-500 Chilean flamingos each season in the last decade, according to the Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, Chile.

 


Soledad Quartucci | Latina Republic

Dr. Soledad Quartucci is the founder and CEO of Latina Republic, a 501(C)3 California-based nonprofit organization. Latina Republic is committed to improving the diversity and professional development of storytellers in the media industry as representation matters and affects the stories we tell. Latina Republic makes space for and empowers unheard voices and trains the next generation of leaders in the U.S.