Altos de Cantillana Expediciones & Ecoturismo – Valle de Aculeo – Chile

The Aculeo Lagoon area is part of the Mediterranean zone of Chile, which is one of the 25 global biodiversity hotspots: ecosystems with high biodiversity, including a high number of endemic (unique to central Chile) flora and fauna, and a high risk to be taken over or replaced by man-made uses.

Geographically, the mountain range of Altos de Cantillana (2,200 meters above sea level) forms a semi-enclosed basin around Aculeo Valley (360 m. above sea level). Ecosystem diversity is generated by different environmental situations such as altitude, bodies of water, slopes, and slope exposure, and is reflected in the great diversity of flora and fauna that can be found in different types of forest and shrubbery in the area.

The beauty of the view is enhanced by oak forests and highland communities that develop on the tops and upper slopes of the range, where there is vegetation that has survived since the last ice age, which ended about 11,000 to 18,000 years ago.

Thanks to the sclerophyll forest’s lack of logging importance and the soil’s low suitability for human uses, today you can still see the Aculeo basin with its original vegetation. That is very unique in the country, especially for somewhere so close to the capital, Santiago.

Various institutions have recognized the environmental value of the area,and this led to the first official protection in 1998, where the whole area of Aculeo, Altos de Cantillana, and Tantehue was declared a Forbidden Hunting Zone for a period of 30 years (D.S. Nº382/98 MINAGRI).Then, the development of the Altos de Cantillana Biodiversity Conservation Project began, funded by the United Nations Program for Development (UNPD), through the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which concluded with the creation of the Private Nature Reserve Altos de Cantillana, and its declaration as a Nature Sanctuary.

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