Chungara Lake, located in the extreme north of Chile, is a Biosphere Reserve known for its exceptional biodiversity. Situated at an altitude of 4,517 meters in the Altiplano, it is part of the Lauca National Park. Together with the Salar de Surire Natural Monument, it forms the Lauca Biosphere Reserve designated by UNESCO since 1981. Overlooking the lake is the dormant stratovolcano Parinacota, reaching a height of 6,380 meters. Satellite imagery can benefit biosphere reserves like Chungara Lake by providing valuable data for detailed mapping, monitoring ecosystem changes, assessing biodiversity and helping in conservation efforts.
Benefits to Biodiversity
Satellite imagery can provide valuable insights into the health of biodiversity in areas like Chungara. It can provide a complete picture of the lake, helping scientists and conservationists monitor water levels, shoreline changes and the overall ecosystem. With remote monitoring, we can gain crucial insights into the health of biodiversity. It helps us map plant species, habitats, and vegetation as well as better prioritise conservation efforts. Furthermore, satellite imagery can be used to assess wildlife populations and understand bird behaviours and migrations. By detecting land use changes and environmental threats, decision-makers can take proactive steps to protect natural ecosystems.
History of Chungara Lake Biosphere Reserve
Covering an area of approximately 22.5 square kilometres with a maximum depth of around 40 meters, Chungara Lake collects water primarily from the Río Chungara and experiences significant water loss through evaporation. The lake sustains a diverse range of plant and animal species. The surrounding vegetation mainly consists of dwarf trees, shrubs and tussock grasses. Despite the cold nights, the area is home to flamingos and over 140 bird species, making it a prime destination for birdwatching in Chile. The southern shores of the lake host aquatic plants, amphibians, mollusks and turbellaria. However, two endemic fish species, pupfish and catfish, face threats from the invasive rainbow trout, prompting the Chilean government to consider eradicating this species from the lake.