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Revista chilena de historia natural

versión impresa ISSN 0716-078X


CUEVAS, JAIME G.  y  VAN LEERSUM, GART. Project "Conservation, Restoration, and Development of the Juan Fernández islands, Chile". Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2001, vol.74, n.4, pp.899-910. ISSN 0716-078X.

From a scientific point of view, the Juan Fernández islands contain one of the most interesting floras of the planet. Although protected as a National Park and a World Biosphere Reserve, 400 years of human interference have left deep traces in the native plant communities. Repeated burning, overexploitation of species, and the introduction of animal and plant plagues have taken 75 % of the endemic vascular flora to the verge of extinction. In 1997, Chile's national forest service (Corporación Nacional Forestal, CONAF) started an ambitious project, whose objective is the recovery of this highly complex ecosystem with a socio-ecological focus. Juan Fernández makes an interesting case, as the local people (600 persons) practically live within the park, therefore impeding the exclusion of the people from any conservation program. Secondly, the relatively small size of the archipelago (100 km2) permits the observation of the effects of whatever modification in the ecosystem on small scales in time and space. Thirdly, the native and introduced biota are interrelated in such a way that human-caused changes in one species population may provoke unexpected results amongst other, non-target species. The project mainly deals with the eradication or control of some animal and plant plagues, the active conservation and restoration of the flora and the inclusion of the local people in conservation planning. This article presents the park's general problems, the strategy proposed to resolve them as well as some preliminary results. This project shows the complexity of the conservation activities in practice, with diverse and complex interrelations and gaps in ecological knowledge. In this respect, the project may well serve as a model for similar programs in other places

Palabras clave : conservation of flora; Juan Fernández islands; Robinson Crusoe island; Alejandro Selkirk island; restoration of flora.

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