MARINE AND FRESHWATER ECOSYSTEMS

Programs and Projects

Water is life and 70% of the earth’s surface is water. Salt and fresh water make up different ecosystems, which are the main source of oxygen on earth.

The Role of Oceans in Climate Change

The UN has proclaimed the period of 2021- 2030 as the
“Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.”

The oceans cover 72% of the earth’s surface. They are key to life on the planet and a key part of the global climate balance.
In addition,
the oceans act as thermoregulators, keeping the planet at an optimal temperature, as they absorb a thousand times more heat than the atmosphere and redistribute it through ocean currents and exchange with the atmosphere.

Oceans hold 96% of all the water on the planet and provide more than 20% of the animal protein for one billion people worldwide. Coastal ecosystems, in particular, produce almost 80% of the resources exploited by 90% of the world’s fisheries.

All the inhabitants of the planet depend directly or indirectly on the oceans, as they provide 55% of the oxygen we breathe and are an important source of resources, such as energy, food, medicine, transportation, tourism, among others.

Water is life and 70% of the earth’s surface is water. Saltwater and freshwater make up different ecosystems that provide many ecosystem services, such as producing the majority of the oxygen on earth; being the largest carbon sink; generating food and medicines; contributing to tourism, recreation, employment, climate change mitigation, climate regulation; and many others.

Fresh water, i.e., that which can be consumed by living beings, is only 3% of the planet’s total water, and is stored in ecosystems such as glaciers, rivers, lakes, and in deep layers of the earth. Chile has the largest area of glaciers or freshwater reserves in South America. 5.9% of the national territory are wetlands. The majority of these wetlands, 80%, are concentrated in the peatlands found in the Magallanes region, which are of great importance for fighting climate change. Therefore, due to the importance of freshwater ecosystems, it is vital to know them in order to protect them.

Salt water, on the other hand, represents almost all the available water on the planet (97%), and is found in ecosystems such as seas and oceans. Chile, with its 4,300 km of coastline, has one of the most important marine ecosystems in the world, as the oceanographic processes that happen here result in a high biodiversity of species, from the smallest organism such as krill, to the largest known animal in the history of our planet, the blue whale.

Thanks to the richness and abundance of species in Chilean waters, the blue whale was considered the primary conservation target at the Melimoyu Elemental Reserve, followed by the freshwater system, which is also present in the Likandes and Puribeter Elemental Reserves, because water is key in any territory.