22 Jan 2019 - Santiago de Chile, Jan 22 (Prensa Latina) Chile has from Tuesday the southernmost protected area on the continent, in Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica, after the establishment of the Diego Ramirez-Paso Drake Islands Marine Park.
According to the Ecology and Biodiversity Institute (IEB), the Diego Ramirez archipelago is considered one of the last pure regions of the world due to its geographical isolation and its turbulent waters, which make it difficult to access its landscapes, so the low human impact keeps a large part of its ecosystems intact and safe from multiple threats.
Ricardo Rozzi, director of the IEB and University of Magellan (UMAG) researcher, considered this fact a great news for the planet, because the archipelago is relevant for monitoring, mitigation and adaptation to global climate change.
He added that together with the commitment to implement the marine park is the new Cape Horn Subantarctic Center, which will be opened during the next UN Conference of the Parties to be held in Chile in January 2020.
This new protected area covers 144,390 square kilometers and is the result of more than 18 years of scientific research developed by the IEB with the support of the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT) and UMAG, as well as the close collaboration between the Undersecretary of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Chilean Navy and the Ministry of the Environment.
Andres Mansilla, UMAG's Vice Rector for Research and Postgraduate Studies, said this step puts Chile at the vanguard of ocean conservation, since the Diego Ramirez Islands and the Drake Pass mark the southern limit of sub-Antarctic ecosystems and the transition between Antarctic and sub-Antarctic biodiversity, making it a unique place on the planet.
The area is key to science, since it evaluates the impact of climate change on the marine and terrestrial biodiversity of the southern tip of the Americas.
Studies are carried out there on the response of insects to climate change, as they are very susceptible to temperature alterations, in the face of which they experience modifications in their reproduction and in other aspects.
There are also extensive underwater forests of brown algae, which are essential for capturing greenhouse gases and combating global climate change, explained Mansilla.
The islands are also a feeding, breeding and refuge area for a great diversity of species, some of which are endangered, like the gray-headed albatross (in danger of extinction), the yellow-billed penguin and the macaroni penguin.