The Andean mountain range extends to the tip of S. America where it borders the west coast. Along the foothills of the mountains to the east is a 50 to 100 mile-wide stretch of forestland before it grades into the Patagonian grassland (see map).Slide1This forestland is relatively homogeneous as the canopy contains only 3 species of the genus Nothofagus, false beech, or sometimes referred to as Antarctic beech. It is a beautiful forest and tree. Some species are evergreen and some deciduous. The leaves resemble those of American beech, but they are only the size of my thumbnail (photo). There are 10 species of Antarctic beech in S. America, 2 in S. Australia, and 5 in New Zealand; they look almost identical; it takes a trained eye to distinguish among most of them. Slide21Now how do suppose these almost identical trees evolved in such disparate places in the world? You are so smart! Yes, of course; at one point the landmasses were all connected and these 3 places were all one on the ancient landmass of Pangaea many, many million years ago. But I find it fascinating that after all this time the species are so similar; it says something about the long-term resilience and durability of this genotype.IMG_0810 But the forest has little resistance against human intervention. The last photo shows how early European settlers burned the forest until it collapsed to make way for their cool-season European grasses to feed their sheep and cattle. Now there is a Chilean national policy to preserve the remaining beech forests and try to restore the ones that have been damaged or destroyed. I have been asked to help with that task.