Written by Silke Steiml
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Nearly 84 Percent Of Island Fauna Is In Danger Of Extinction, Say Scientists

A team of about 50 international experts will meet next month in Region V’s Viña del Mar to analyze the endangered flora and fauna of Juan Fernández archipelago, located about 670 kilometers from mainland Chile in the Pacific Ocean and administratively belonging to Region V.

Chilean authorities and environmental NGOs are currently working on a conservation plan for the territory. These plans are to be presented at the Viña del Mar summit and be put into effect as soon as possible.

“What we need is a long-term strategy,” said Stephan Funk of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, which two years ago highly listed the archipelago amongst the planet’s 100 ecosystems that must be conserved.

More than 400 different species of plants and animals have been classified throughout the country since 2005. Of 115 more closely examined samples, the ones existing on the islands are the most vulnerable and fragile.

“Almost 84 percent of Juan Fernández’s fauna finds itself in danger of extinction,” said Álvaro Sapag, director of the National Environment Commission (CONAMA). “In the last 100 years, eight different plants have disappeared. The situation of the island’s animals is very similar.”

According to Aaron Cavieres, director of the NGO Fundación Biodiversa, 60 percent of the archipelago’s flora can only be found on Juan Fernández. To him, “the archipelago is the key to answering questions with respect to evolution” by analyzing the connection of its species with those of other continents.

However, the three islands that form Juan Fernández (Robinson Crusoe, Alejandro Selkirk and Santa Clara) are not just of scientific interest. The English newspaper The Independent just named the archipelago one of the best options in Latin America to “disconnect oneself from the world.”

The islands represent a unique opportunity to retreat from everyday life for a while and enjoy “the charm of nature,” the newspaper wrote. The islands have no cell phone reception and can by reached by ship (that travels once a month) or plane, with tickets starting at US$730 for a two-hour flight.

In other news, the 800 residents living on the islands will now pay five times less to fly to the Chilean mainland than visitors, the region’s authorities announced last week. Instead of US$730 roundtrip, they will now pay around US$130.

SOURCES: EL MERCURIO, LA NACIÓN, LA TERCERA

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 30 September 2009 )

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