The Bosque Fray Jorge Biosphere Reserve comprises the Bosque Fray Jorge, Talinay and Punta del Viento National Parks, situated north of Santiago. The Fray Jorge forests are green oases surrounded by semiarid lands. The reserve shelters almost all the Mediterranean species typical of Chile.
The Bosque Fray Jorge Biosphere Reserve comprises the Bosque Fray Jorge National Park as well as the Talinay and Punta del Viento National Parks, situated in the IVth Region, Limari Province, north of Santiago, Chile.
The reserve is known for having the northernmost Valdivian temperate rain forests. The coastal fog (Spanish: Camanchaca) hangs on the mountain-slopes and moistens subtropical vegetation, allowing the hydrophilic forests to survive despite being surrounded by semiarid scrublands, with average annual rainfall of approximately 113 mm.(4.5 in). The forest is a vestigial survival of the last glacial period.
Typical plant species found within the reserve include:
- Peruvian pepper Schinus latifolius
- Azara celastrina
- Lithraea venenosa
- Porlieria chilensis
- Olivillo (Aextoxicon punctatum)
- Epiphytes include: Sarmienta scandens and Griselinia scandens
The reserve also includes a number of smaller animals, such as degu, chinchilla and foxes. Many different kinds of birds live here, such as the Chilean tinamou (Nothoprocta perdicaria) and the long-tailed meadowlark (Sturnella loyca).
Fray Jorge Biosphere Reserve extends along the range of mountains forming the Cordillera de la Costa which extends between the River Elqui in the north to the Aconcagua in the south and includes coastal plains and mountainous hinterland. It is situated between formations of scrub and semidesert coastal steppes on the one side, and tree and shrub formations of the Cordillera de la Costa on the other.
The most important feature of this reserve is the presence of the most northerly forest in Chile. The Fray Jorge forests are green oases surrounded by semiarid lands. They have some features in common with the hygrophilous forests in the south. The evergreen relict forest comprisesa hygrophyll forest with plant species that are characteristic of the south of Chile, over 1,000 km (600 mi) away, such as the Olivillo (Aextoxicon punctatum) and Winter’s bark or Canelo (Drimys winteri).
The reserve represents the dwarf coastal cloud shrubland habitat, harboring succulents and thorny shrubs comprised in the arid and semiarid Mediterranean type plant formation of Mediterranean Chile. Biomes such as river, estuary (the mouth of the Limari River), coastline,semiarid sclerophyll shrubland are represented in this reserve. There are 440 species of native flora, of which 266 are endemic to Chile, 10 are listed as endangered and 84 as vulnerable species.
The reserve shelters almost all the mediterranean species typical of Chile. Among the great variety of birds are partridge (Nothoprocta perdicaria), meadow lark (Sturnella loyca), goldfinch (Diuca diuca), and mockingbird (Mimus thenca).There are relatively few mammal species, the most noteworthy being the fox (Dusicyon culpaeus).
The core area of the Biosphere Reserve has remained in its natural state. There is no evidence of farming, intensive stock raising or exploitation of the forest even though there has been some introduction of livestock in the transition area. However, in Las Chinchillas there has been excessive grazing, felling of trees and coal mining.
Over 752 people (1999) live in the buffer zone, mainly engaged in agriculture and cattle raising.The main human activity is tourism, with close to 15,000 visitors per year. Research activities and environmental education also take place in the Biosphere Reserve.