A framework for the classification Chilean terrestrial ecosystems as a tool for achieving global conservation targets

Karina Martínez-Tilleria, Mariela Núñez-Ávila*, Carolina A. León, Patricio Pliscoff, Francisco A. Squeo, Juan J. Armesto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Countries that are signatories of the Convention of Biological Diversity are committed to the goal of protecting 17% of their natural ecosystems by 2020. The lack of an up-to-date, operational classification and cartography of regional ecosystems seriously limits the assessment of progress towards this goal. Here, we present a broad ecosystem framework, which combines land use, functional traits of dominant plant species, and climatic factors for the classification of terrestrial ecosystems and apply this framework to classify Chilean terrestrial ecosystems. This new classification is consistent with the recently proposed IUCN framework to assess ecosystem conservation status. Using this framework, we identified and described 30 Chilean terrestrial ecosystems, including land units of natural and anthropogenic origin. We also provide a cartographic representation of ecosystems for land planning purposes and an overall assessment of their conservation status. We evaluated the representation of the 30 ecosystems in the Chilean National System of Protected Areas (NSPA) and in Private Protected Areas (PPA), identifying 15 ecosystems underrepresented (below the 17% target) in the NSPA, in contrast to only 11 when the area of NSPA+PPA was considered. The proposed classification can be broadly applicable to assess the conservation status of ecosystems elsewhere, using similar conceptual and methodological tools. The development of functional ecosystem classifications for different countries must be encouraged to facilitate monitoring of global conservation targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2857-2876
Number of pages20
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, The Author(s).


  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Ecosystem approach
  • Functional traits
  • Protected areas


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