The book, Plants from the Woods and Forests of Chile, will include paintings of threatened plants and interesting facts about their threats and conservation. Some of these have been the focus of collaborative conservation programmes between the RBG Edinburgh's International Conifer Conservation Programme and key Chilean research institutions. The following are examples of these important initiatives.

Araucaria forests in Parque Nacional Conguillo, Chile

Endemics of Chile Project

Balsamocarpon brevifolium (Leguminosae)

Endemic flora of Chile

Chile is often described as being like a biogeographical island. This is because it is enclosed to the west by the Pacific Ocean, to the east by the high Andean mountain chain and to the north by the Atacama Desert. As a result, the flora has become isolated and the physical, climatic, and biological factors found within the country have contributed to a unique flora which consists of high levels of endemism. Recent estimates put the figure of Chilean endemic plants as high as 2266 species (46% of the flora). This is a higher percentage than any other South American country. The flora also has 81 endemic genera and two endemic plant families. In mainland Chile most of the endemic species are distributed between Región II [Antofagasta] and Región IX [Araucanía] with the most occurring in Región IV [Coquimbo]. Chilean territory also includes the Pacific islands of Archipielago de Juan Fernández, Islas Desventuradas and Isla de Pascua. These remote oceanic islands also contain considerably high levels of plant endemism, for example, 70% of the flora of Juan Fernández is endemic to the archipelago. A checklist of the flora of Chile, including the endemic species and their distributions can be found at


Conservation for Endemic Species

The cover of the 'Threatened Plants of Central and South Chile'

Collaborative research

between RBG Edinburgh and leading Chilean research institutions has developed effective strategies aimed at safeguarding the long-term future of many threatened plants species in central and southern Chile. Much of this has been funded by the UK government through the Darwin Initiative for the Survival of Species programme. For example, a three year project (2002-2005), An integrated conservation programme for threatened endemic forest species in Chile, has been collaborative with the Institute of Silviculture of the Forestry Faculty, Universidad Austral de Chile (UACh). Part of the the project entailed working with landowners in order to develop long-term in situ conservation measures for threatened species that grow on their properties. This was supported by cultivating these species in the Arboretum of UACh and distributing plants to other in-country conservation collection centres. Training also formed an important part of the programme both in-country and at RBG Edinburgh. Field work involved travelling throughout south and central Chile in order to research the distribution and conservation of threatened species. The findings of the project were published in a book called Threatened Plants of Central and South Chile, which details the distribution, conservation and propagation of 47 species. A second, revised edition of the Spanish version is currently being prepared and this will be published in Chile in 2011. The English edition is available from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

View of Volcan Villarrica from Reserva Nasampulli

Reserva Nasampulli

was first initiated by a group of 20 Chilean professionals and staff from RBG Edinburgh's International Conifer Conservation Programme (ICCP) when they formed a small cooperative to purchase the initial 170 hectares of forest. Since 2003, the UK-based Non-Governmental Organisation, Rainforest Concern has been working in partnership with the Universidad Austral de Valdivia (UACh) to purchase further parcels of forest which now totals 1000 hectares. This wilderness, which is in a remote and picturesque part of the Chilean Andes, is dominated by old-growth trees  of Araucaria araucana (monkey puzzle, pehuén).  The objective of the reserve is to protect this threatened natural habitat and its remarkable biodiversity which includes the Magellanic Woodpecker (Campephilius magellanicus), the Slender-billed Parakeet (Enicognathus leptorhynchos) and the Pudu (Pudu pudu) ; the latter is South America's smallest species of deer. The long-term plan is to purchase new parcels of neighbouring land in order to establish wildlife corridors to the nearby protected areas of Parque Nacional Huerquehue and Villarrica. For more details on this important project please see the latest issue of Rainforest Review