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I formerly admired Humboldt, I now almost adore him.

Charles Darwin, letter written in 1832

Charles Darwin

Alexander von Humboldt, 1809 Friedrich Georg Weitsch

table of CONTENTS

07 08 10 13 14 19 20 23 24
Rodrigo Moraga Z.

Two Southern Expeditions A Visionary and His Mentor A Cold Water River The Humboldt Current Upwellings A Constant Source of Nourishment A Bountiful Ocean Origin of Biological Richness and Diversity FOG Nurturing the Forest The Relict Forest A Witness of Change Catching the Fog Adaptation for Survival The Understorey A Minute Treasure FLORA AND FAUNA Unique Species THE PLACE Zapallar Early Conservationists Two Friends, a Visionary and his Teacher BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Two Southern Expeditions

A Visionary and his mentor

Although they each had their unique styles and different personalities, the explorers Alexander Von Humboldt and Charles Darwin represent two influential figures of science. Both were gifted with the ability and willingness to understand the natural world. Overcoming enormous challenges in their voyages, they reached profound and revolutionary conclusions regarding the connectivity of natural phenomena. Darwin considered Humboldt one of the greatest scientific explorers of his time, and frequently referred to him in his journals and personal letters. Humboldts exploration of the landscape, as well as his writing style, inspired Darwin to embark on his voyage on the Beagle. He also provided him with the basic guidelines on what and how to observe and record his findings. Humboldt and Darwin were naturalists whose influence can be seen throughout the scope of science. It is interesting that each of their respective works have, as their origin, a voyage of discovery that took place during their youth. Humboldt is often considered the father of ecology. He was the first to take on the study of the relationship between organisms and their environment. Humboldts travels were well thought out and prepared while Darwin encountered many unexpected challenges and setbacks. In these voyages, the coast of Chile was
Karl Yunis K.

of key importance for providing evidence that supported their future theories about the links between species distribution and natural phenomena. Humboldt was one of the first naturalists to relate the earths physical phenomena to species distribution when he stated: In the study of physical phenomena we find the noblest and most relevant result to be a knowledge of the chain of life, by which all natural forces are interconnected and mutually dependent. The Peruvian current was named after Humboldt, who described its extraordinary importance for coastal ecosystems of South America. This ocean current is the main subject of a fascinating letter Humboldt wrote to Charles Darwin in 1839: I would have liked to talk to you more about the cold water ocean current that borders the coast, on which I pondered so often, because I believe it modifies the climate of the coast. A cold water river runs from the Southeast and hits the coast of Chile going towards the south and north of the Chonos along the Peruvian coast.

A Cold Water River

The Humboldt Current

The Humboldt current appeared millions of years ago, when, flowing by inertia around Antarctica, the course of these waters suffered a final disruption. As the South American continent emerged, a deep ridge began to form on the ocean bottom along the Pacific coast of South America that ended up deviating the current northwards reaching the Galapagos Islands. The marine bottom that borders the continent has many depth variations, which generates a convection action that serves as

a double current, enabling the Humboldt current to be selfsustained. When the current finally reaches the Galapagos, it turns westwards, and ends up scattering its waters throughout the Polynesian Islands. The climate of the region of Valparaiso is influenced by the current, which also decisively affects the climate of the entire Chilean coastline. Many specialized habitats throughout Chile owe their existence to this phenomenon.
Las Docas beach, Region of Valparaiso Photo: Rodrigo Moraga Z.

US Army

A Constant Source of Nourishment

Bull Kelp Durvillaea antarctica

Photo: Karl Yunis K.

Upwellings are ascending currents that carry water from the depth of the ocean to the surface. The temperature and salinity of ocean waters have an essential effect on its density and create dense water bodies in specific places. These waters are rich in nutrients, making them sink to the bottom of the ocean, to be then extended towards other latitudes by ocean currents. In 1839, Humboldt outlined an explanatory mechanism about the rise of deep ocean floor water - the upwellings - which would basically explain the way the Humboldt current operates on the western The Antarctic waters of the Humboldt current contain an extraordinarily rich density of plankton, transforming these waters into one of the most important fishing grounds on the planet, thus making the currents waters an important economic resource for Chile, Ecuador and Peru.

coast of South America.

A Bountiful Ocean
Origin of Biological Richness and Diversity

One of the most biologically rich areas of the Chilean ocean is located between Valparaiso and Los Molles. This is due mainly to the influence of the Humboldt current and to the outstanding topography of the ocean floor and the coastline in this part of Chile. The main water bodies and the direction in which the currents flow have a dramatic influence on the distribution of the various marine species. A broad range of living and non-living ocean resources interrelate in various ecosystems along this coast. The waters, which are rich in minerals and organic matter, allow the existence of a diverse array of marine life. The Humboldt current also brings with it the fogs that condense over the sea and coastal hills. A few natural barriers along the central coast of Chile allow these morning mists to precipitate. The terrestrial communities of the coastal hills of the Valparaiso region of Chile also owe their existence to the Humboldt current, since it allows for the condensation of the sea mist against the steep slopes of the Coastal Mountain range.
Bottle-nosed Dolphin Tursiops truncatus
Photo: Rodrigo Moraga Z.


Nurturing the Forest

Prevailing winds from the Pacific ocean move towards the coast, precipitating as they pass over the cooler waters of the Humboldt current, thus producing a dense layer of fog known as the Camanchaca. These air masses, laden with moisture are forced to ascend over the coastal terrain, which causes them to cool at an altitude of approximately 400 meters above sea level. This phenomenon creates a microclimate in the high coastal hills of Zapallar due to an abrupt interruption of the thermal inversion levels

as they hit the coastal cliffs, resulting in condensation through the forests fog-catching effect. This produces precipitation similar in volume to those of the Southern temperate rainforest regions, and would explain why dense forests are found at higher compounds, sulfur, carbon and, of course, sea salt, producing relict forests with hydrophilous characteristics plant species with a total dependence on the sea-mist.
Karl Yunis K.

elevations. Fog is different to rain water in that it contains nitrogen


Sofa Armanet

The Relict Forest

A Witness of Change

In spite of scarce precipitation, the development and survival of the coastal forests of Chiles Mediterranean ecoregion is possible thanks to the contribution of moisture content from fog. Coastal mist blown by the wind is trapped by the vegetation in immense quantities, forming large drops on the foliage, which then descend to the forest floor. This interrelation between the foliage and the sea mist is what sustains the forest of Zapallar and the associated biological diversity. This unique ecosystem contains species that populated vast areas of this ecoregion when rainfall was far more abundant. The succession of glaciations that took place during the Pleistocene and Pliocene separated the forests of Zapallar, Santa Ins in Pichidangui, and Altos de Talinay in Fray Jorge, from the rest of the forests of the Chilean southern zone. These forests are today a living remnant of what a vast forest ecosystem used to look like in the central parts of Chile thousands of years ago. Among the tree species that have survived from pre-glacial times are the Olivillo (Aextoxicon punctatum), the Canelo (Drimys winteri), the Petra (Myrceugenia exsucca), and various fern species. These plants formed the botanical foundation of the primary forest that subsequently underwent colonization by certain xerophyle species like the Peumo (Crataegus monogyna), the Belloto (Beilschmiedia miersii), and certain Myrtaceae. It was recently discovered that the Olivillo is the only species in its family, indicating that other members of the Aextoxicon family existed in the past; hence the Olivillo is a living fossil that probably evolved in the central region of Chile.

Karl Yunis K.


Catching the Fog

Adaptation for Survival

Oasis fog-forest ecosystems only exist in a few select locations in the world. These unique and fragile habitats contain flora and fauna with high levels of endemism. The coastal forest of Zapallar contains trees with large canopies and entwined branches, allowing moisture to be trapped by foliage and moss covered bark. The water droplets slide down the trunks and leaves and fall to the ground, where the nutrient rich water is used by a multitude of plants that live within this forest ecosystem.
Karl Yunis K.


The Understorey
A Minute Treasure

These moist forest ecosystems shelter a dense understorey containing an abundance of vines and large variety of flowering species, many of them endemic to Chile. The presence of epiphytes covering tree trunks is one of the main differences between the coastal fog forest and other drier types of forest habitat found in the Mediterranean ecoregion of Chile. The Zapallar forest provides sustenance and shelter for diverse species of insects, birds, mammals, and amphibians. Although there is no evidence of its presence nowadays, a rare amphibian, known as Darwins Frog (Rhinoderma darwinii), existed in the forest of Zapallar, and is now presumed locally extinct. Specimens of this emblematic species of the temperate rainforests of the southern region of Chile were collected in 1861 and now belong to the Hamburg Museum.
Karl Yunis K.


flora and fauna

Unique Species
Humboldt Penguin Spheniscus humboldti
Photo: Rodrigo Moraga Z.

The particular ecosystem that survives in these moist forests of central Chile is the ideal habitat for a diversity of extraordinary species of flora and fauna. Among the birds that currently dwell in coastal forests, there are many which are characteristic of the Valdivian forest found in southern Chile, implying that both are very similar as regards their feeding stocks, insects and wild fruits. Several notable and endangered birds found in Zapallar include, the Thorn-Tailed Rayadito (Spinicauda spinicauda), the Des Murs Wiretail (Sylviorthorhynchus desmursii), the Torcaza or Chilean Pigeon (Zenaida auriculata), and the Rufous-Legged Owl (Strix rufipes). The Madre de la Culebra (Acanthinodera cummingi), one of the worlds largest beetles, can also be found in these woods. The Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti), a species found only within the waters of the Humboldt current, inhabits the coasts of Chile and Peru. Surrounded by cacti, the distinct characteristic of the Humboldt Penguin is that it nests and reproduces in hot Mediterranean climate far from the Antarctic ice. They migrate to the south during the El Nio phenomenon, when warm waters divert the Humboldt current, forcing them to abandon their reproductive colonies in Peru and the north of Chile in search of food found in important colony sites in central Chile, this fact exemplifies the importance of these southern reproductive sites for their survival. One such site is the Island of the Penguins located in front of Cachagua beach.


Belloto del Norte Beilschmiedia miersii

Photo: Karl Yunis K.

In 1920, Federico Johow described at least six plant species which are now locally extinct in Zapallar. Today, among the species on the endangered list we find the Belloto del Norte, a species endemic to the zone and which has been declared a Chilean Natural Monument. The decrease in distribution and genetic diversity of adult specimens, along with external factors such as the removal of organic matter from the forest floor, destruction of vegetation, erosion, competition from introduced species and overgrazing, have weakened the recovery of this important tree species. The forest of Zapallar is one of the few places where you can find the Northern Belloto in Chile. It is distributed unevenly inhabiting biotopes that are more humid due to the presence of ground water and coastal fog. Today, the morphology of the Belloto fruit prevents its natural dispersal. Some scientists believe that in prehistoric times it was spread by extinct mega fauna such as megatheres, mastodons, and pre-historic horses that fed on its fruit. Another endemic species of central Chiles coastal forests
Passiflora Passiflora pinnatistipula Photo: Karl Yunis K.

is the passionflower (Passiflora pinnatistipula). In Chile, this magnificently beautiful vine may only be found in Pichidanguis Santa Ins hills, as well as in the forests of Zapallar, preferring areas where the forest canopy is more open. The passiflora is the only Chilean species of tropical origin, with an edible berry similar to that of the passion fruit.


Eriosyce subgibbosa

Photo: Karl Yunis K.

In the dry zones, many species of plants have developed the same characteristics of plants associated with similar Mediterranean ecosystems throughout the world, producing leaves and trunks covered with a layer of wax that prevent dehydration. The typical aroma of the Zapallar forest comes mainly from the perfume of the Peumo and Boldo trees. This perfume can be found in the oils and waxes in their leaves, which help to limit dehydration. It is because of this feature that the general forest type of the Zapallar area is known as a coastal esclerophylic forest. The term esclerophylic comes from the Greek terms sclero (hard) and phyllon (leaf). These dry habitats are also colonized by other dry-stem plants such as the Chagual, (Puya chilensis), the Tebos Cacti (Chloris chilensis), the Boldo (Peumus boldus), and the Molle (Schinus latifolius).


Cysthanches grandiflora
Photo: Karl Yunis K.

Many plants adapt to droughts by storing water in their stems (cacti) or within thick, fleshy leaves (succulents like the Cysthanches).

Orchid Chloraea lamellata

Photo: Karl Yunis K.

Another way to survive a drought is to store moisture in succulent roots, as orchids and alstromerias do, or in underground stems (bulbs), as the native wildflowers aaucas or audiles do. The presence of these kinds of adaptations in local flora is a sign of the presence of a Mediterranean climate, meaning cold, rainy winters, and hot, dry summers. Such conditions force plants to deploy their growth and flowering in early springtime in order to fend off mid-summer droughts. It is in this season of plenty, flowering and renewal that the Zapallar forest becomes vital for various species of migrating birds such as the Giant Hummingbird. This beautiful bird, the largest hummingbird in the world, is thought to migrate before the winter months to the Bolivian yungas.
32 33 Aauca Rhodophiala chilensis Photo: Karl Yunis K.

Photo: Rodrigo Moraga Z.

Giant Hummingbird Patagona gigas



Chungungo Lontra felina

Photo: Rodrigo Moraga Z.

The Chungungo or Lontra felina is the only species of the Lontra genus found exclusively in marine habitats. It uses coastlines that extend approximately 30 meters inland and 100 to 150 meters out to sea. This animal inhabits marine areas exposed to strong tides and winds. It prefers rocky coasts that contain caverns that remain above sea level at high tide, and depends on large seaweed beds that offer an abundant and vast diversity of prey species such as mussels, clams and sea urchins. The Zapallar bay offers an ideal habitat for the Chungungo, which can often be seen along the rocky shores. In order to eat the shellfish on which it mainly feeds, the Chungungo takes a stone, swims on its back, and uses its paws to break open the shells by hitting them with the stone.

the place

In 1846, Francisco Javier Ovalle acquired the Catapilco estate via a family auction. Back then, the estate boasted the same surface that Zapallar County has today. Ovalle was married to Isabel Vicua Aguirre, the eldest daughter of the estates former owner, liberal politician and President of Chile, Francisco Ramn Vicua. The new owner contributed great dynamism and progress to the estate, building the Catapilco dam, among many other works. The reservoir was the first of its kind in South America, and enabled the irrigation of large tracks of farmland. To transport the everincreasing production of grains out of the zone, Ovalle purchased a small steamship and built a mule-trail connecting the remote cove of Zapallar to agricultural lands located several miles inland,

transforming Zapallar bay into a small port used exclusively for the estates production. One of those roads, designed in 1860 by the German engineer Teodoro Schmidt, was labeled El Sello. It began in the farmlands of Catapilco, near the reservoir, continuing due West through the area known as La Ceniza, till it reached Zapallar bay. This trail was used for many years as a transport route by means of droves of mules that crossed Zapallar forest, up until then, an unspoiled wilderness. Coal was later extracted from the forest by slowburning the wood of the forest in large brick ovens, and many hills that surrounded the beach were sown, thus replacing fragile native habitat with agricultural fields.
Don Federico Johow and others leaving for an excursion on horseback Gabriel Rodrguez - Zapallar County Archive

One of the owners 14 offspring, don Olegario Ovalle Vicua, was Zapallars founder. Since his early childhood, Olegario had fallen in love with the Catapilco Estate. Upon the death of his parents, he inherited an important part of the original estate called Cachagua. After a trip to Europe, Olegario decided to establish a coastal resort town and selected the beautiful cove of Zapallar for this township. Up until then, Zapallar had only been enjoyed by his family and the estate workers. His original design, which still exists, sprang from his mind. His original
Historic Zapallar, circa 1896 Gabriel Rodrguez - Zapallar County Archive

plan preserved the ravines, conserving them as public parkways and established walking paths in these areas so that the houses of the township had access to the seaside and beaches. The first summerhouse was built in 1892, and the following year many families of German origin, including Olegarios acquaintance Dr. Federico Johow, became the first residents. All of these founding families were instantly bewitched by the beauty of the new village. It was in this period that the profound friendship between Olegario and Federico began.


Early Conservationists
Two Friends, a Visionary and his Teacher

Olegario Ovalle and Federico Johow Archive of Juan Carlos Johow and the Zapallar County Archive

Federico Johow von Bielher was born in Germany in 1859, and later hired by the Government of Chilean President Jos Manuel Balmaceda in 1888, due to his excellence as a teacher of chemistry, botany and zoology. Federico was a wise naturalist, and a renowned professor and scientist. Chile is indebted to him for the creation of the Pedagogical Institute, which offered its teachings to hundreds of future professors, as well as executing a vast portfolio of valuable scientific research. The friendship of these two men and their shared love for Zapallar gave rise to the first conservation initiative involving the magnificent forest of Zapallar. Worried by the visible devastation of the surrounding hills, Olegario asked Federico what could be done to restore the natural landscape. Johow told him to do

nothing at all, save for taking his herds away from them, so that the natural vegetation could flourish. Once Olegario passed away, Federico dedicated an important part of his last years to an exhaustive research of the Cachagua Estates flora, a task that later became his posthumous work: Flora de las plantas vasculares de Zapallar (Diversity of Vascular Plants in Zapallar.) The book was re-edited in 2007, with the help of his grandson, Dr. Juan Carlos Johow. Today there is a new generation of conservationists and residents inspired by the work Olegario and Federico. The forests of Zapallar, their flora and fauna, are a natural treasure that many aspire to preserve. This project is committed to the establishment of scientific and technical research benefiting the conservation of the Zapallar forest, and fosters the participation of experts capable of sustaining efforts aimed at awakening in children, youngsters, and adults an awareness, respect and harmonious coexistence with our natural world. Actions such as avoiding over-grazing, as Federico Johow suggested over a hundred years ago, as well as restoring native habitat, controlling exotic species, implementing erosion control, preventing forest fires, designing and maintaining appropriate hiking trails and fostering an understanding of the value of the local landscape, can ensure that future generations enjoy our shared treasure. It is our hope that our collective actions will enable the Zapallar forest conservation project to serve as an example of effective private land conservation in Chile.
Zapallar in the old days Gabriel Rodrguez - the Zapallar County Archive


Alexander von Humboldt in the Works of Charles Darwin,, retrieved June 2009. CAPONI, Gustavo. De Humboldt a Darwin: una inflexin clave en la historia de la biogeografa Departamento de Filosofia, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina Council for Science and the Environment. [Published in the Encyclopedia of Earth October 8, 2008; Retrieved June 21, 2009]. Flora de las Plantas Vasculares de Zapallar, Revisin ampliada e ilustrada de la obra de Federico Johow. Editores: Carolina Villagrn, Clodomiro Marticorena y Juan J. Armesto. Septiembre 2007. FUENTES ER (1988) Sinopsis de paisajes de Chile Central. En: ER Fuentes & S Prenafeta (eds) Ecologa del paisaje en Chile central. Estudios sobre sus espacios montaosos: 17-27. Ediciones Universidad Catlica, Santiago, 125 pp. MILLER A (1976) The climate of Chile. En: W Schwerdtfeger (ed.) Climate of Central and South America. Elsevier Scientific, World Survey of Climatology: 113-145. Schemenauer, R.S., Cereceda, P., 1994. A proposed standard fog collector for use in high elevation regions. Journal of Applied Meteorology 33 (11), 11131322. MUOZ C & E PISANO (1947) Estudio de la Vegetacin y Flora de los Parques Nacionales de Fray Jorge y Talinay, Agricultura Tcnica, ao VII , N 2, Ministerio de Agricultura, Santiago, 71 190. Muoz-Schick M., R. Pinto and A. Moreira (2001) Oasis de neblina en los cerros costeros del sur de Iquique, Regin de Tarapac, durante el evento El Nio 1997-1998. Revista Chilena de Historia Natural, vol 74 389-405 Myers, N. et al. Nature 403, 853858 (2000) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Content source); Mark McGinley (Topic Editor). 2008. Humboldt Current large marine ecosystem. In: Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National) Pinto, R., Larrain, H., Cereceda, P., Lzaro, P., Osses, P., Schemenauer, R.S., 2001. Monitoring fogvegetation communities at fog sites in Alto Patache south of Iquique, northern Chile during El Nio and La Nia events (19972000). Proceedings of Second International Conference on Fog and Fog Collection. St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada, pp. 293296. July 1520, 2001. SQUEO, F. A., J.R. Gutirrez & I.R. Hernndez, Eds., Historia Natural del Parque Nacional Bosque Fray Jorge Ediciones Universidad de La Serena, La Serena, Chile (2004) 2: 45 60

Cast away the evil idea Of becoming a pompous villa Under no circumstance accept this To pursue beauty till turning ugly Let the newcomer always see This mountain corner Whose feet are bathed by the sea Whose hair is made of forests And let it be what is and was Part boat, part refuge. Javier Prez Ovalle, 1930


The forests of Zapallar, Cachagua, and Catapilco make up the most valuable reserve of native flora in Chiles central coastline. Their vast biodiversity constitutes a global patrimony classified as a biodiversity hotspot by Conservation International (Myers), and thus adopted by the Chilean Government as one of its priority sites for domestic conservationist efforts. Corporacin Bosques de Zapallar aims to involve neighbors and future generations in the care and preservation of these valuable examples of Mediterranean ecosystems, working gratefully and respectfully with its owners and enjoying the benefits that the zones biological and scenic biodiversity offers its citizens. Its first board is made up by Juan Carlos Johow, Denise Astoreca, Luisa Eyzaguirre, Rodrigo Cruz, Jos Miguel Torrico, Federico Ringeling and Diego Larran. The publication of this book was made possible thanks to the sponsorship of The Nature Conservancy, Corporacin Parques para Chile and Corporacin Bosques de Zapallar. Text written by Karl Yunis Kretschmer, Juan Carlos Johow, Federico Ringeling and Victoria Alonso Design, production and printing: Carmen Montt and Coca Lyon Translation: Macarena Palominos and Karl Yunis Kretschmer Correccin de estilo: Eugenia Fernndez Printed by OGRAMA 2009 The Nature Conservancy Printed in Chile -ISBN 978-956-332-086-2

Thank you to Dr. Juan Carlos Johow, Federico Ringeling, Jos Antonio Varas and the community of Zapallar for their support in the preservation of their natural treasure. Corporacin Bosques de Zapallar seeks to involve neighbors and future generations in caring for and preserving this valuable Mediterranean ecosystem in Chile, working with gratitude and respect in conjunction with the landowners.

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