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Chile announces proposal to create Desierto Florido National Park

Christian Fernsby |
President Gabriel Boric announced that the new ecological reserve will be located to the south of Copiapó.

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It will protect the incredible flowering phenomenon that covers the Atacama Desert with color.

The flowering desert occurs in the Atacama Desert, the driest in the world. It is a phenomenon related to the germination, growth and flowering of more than 200 plant species, and takes place depending on conditions of precipitation, humidity and temperature in this arid zone. The event can occur every three, five or ten years. This season, the phenomenon is expected to be more extensive, lasting until mid-November and surpassing all forecasts.

President Gabriel Boric announced this Sunday the proposal to create the new Desierto Florido (Flowering Desert) National Park in order to protect this natural wonder and the ecosystem that surrounds it. It will be located in the Llanos and Chañarcillo sectors, some 30 km south of Copiapó and 80 km north of Vallenar. It will have the highest standard of environmental protection that Chile provides.

The flowering desert phenomenon has a high environmental, scientific, educational, cultural, tourist and recreational importance. The need to protect it was a fundamental consideration for the Regional Government of Atacama in creating the Desierto Florido Commission in 1997 and reaffirming its constitution in 2015.

The importance of declaring the area a national park lies in protecting an ecosystem that is poorly represented in the National System of State-Protected Wildlife Areas (SNASPE), and which falls within the domain of the 2022-2026 Government Program on “Biodiversity and Animal Welfare Protection”.

It is also important to highlight that the Atacama Region only has four of the 106 protected wildlife areas that currently make up the SNASPE. The park will therefore contribute to biodiversity and ecosystem protection in the region.

In general terms, the process to declare a national park begins by presenting the necessary paperwork to the Council of Ministers for Sustainability, who propose the legal creation of protected wildlife areas to the Presidency. Voting on the declaration is scheduled for the next session in November.

If it is approved by the council, technical reports and files will be prepared by the Environment Ministry. In addition, the National Assets Ministry will begin processing the Supreme Decree, where the official cartography of the area must be prepared, to then be sent for the National Assets, Environment and Agriculture ministers to sign.

The General Comptroller of the Republic then begins the recording process, where the file is entered and logged. Finally, the Supreme Decree is published in the Official Gazette, which is expected to take place during the first quarter of 2023.

The ministers involved in implementing this important milestone, and who accompanied the President in his announcement, highlighted the importance of protecting the area and the species that inhabit it.

“We are facing three major crises, and one of them is the loss of biodiversity. This announcement will give us a new national park in Chile, number 44, which will contribute in that area,” stated acting Environment Minister Maximiliano Proaño.

“It is crucial to protect our ecosystems – which are inhabited by a great diversity of flora and fauna species – to ensure a liveable future for our children. This area has high biological value and many endemic species, so this is great news,” Minister Proaño added.

National Assets Minister Javiera Toro explained that “the flowering desert is part of our biodiversity heritage and an amazing natural spectacle that is put at risk every time someone cuts a flower, treads on the ground or drives through the territory.”

“For this phenomenon to keep happening depends on us effectively protecting the unique soils that make it possible. More than 200 plant species in the area flower every three, five or ten years, depending on weather conditions, which in turn allow insects and fauna to arrive in search of food. It is imperative that we decisively protect this area, and that is why we are working to create this park,” she added.

Lastly, Agriculture Minister Esteban Valenzuela said that the creation of the Desierto Florido National Park “is in tune with what the President has requested: that this ecological government looks throughout Chile to expand its protected wildlife areas. The proposed area to be protected will validate one of our country’s treasures, because it will allow us to ensure biological diversity and conserve the environmental heritage of the area.”


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