Shelby Watterson


Peñalolén is a municipality commune with approximately 240,000 people located in the foothills of the Andes mountains.
Area: 54.2 km2 (21 sq mi)
Climate: Mediterranean climate zone
Annual rainfall: 281.9mm (11.1")
Topography: mountainous, hills; 656 meters above sea level
Land use: 25% developed , 40% farmland , 35% mixed use


With a population density of approximately 4,000/km2 (10,000/sq mi), Peñalolén is one of 52 municipalities in the Metropolitan Region of Santiago de Chile that is highly vulnerable to land use changes due to development. The municipality experiences market oriented planning pressures which can result in expansion at the expense of surrounding rural and natural areas. This is of concern because the area is considered a hot spot for conservation, but only has approximately 5% protected areas. Central areas of Peñalolén have been converted from vineyards to large numbers of medium density housing with accompanying commercially used shopping centers built in the western part of the municipality. Agriculturally used areas decreased from 53.9% in 1993 to 48.1% in 2009 resulting in a 5.8% loss of green space while at the same time built up areas increased from 31.1% to 42.3%. Urban barren land also saw a 1% loss from 2002 to 2009 as open land was developed. There is a lack of integrated urban planning system, but programs are being developed to help integrate better urban infrastructure systems and address domestic organic waste issues which contribute to air and water quality issues.

In 2012 the Environment Department was born as a specialized unit with a goal of enhancing ecosystem functions and services and caring for the environment. This unit has four departments which include education, parks, evaluation, and projects. In 2017 the Environment Department was awarded an Environmental Certificate in Outstanding level of Excellence for Environmental management and integration of the community.  In 2018 the department adopted the vocation to develop biodiversity, “Peñalolén is Biodiversity: Protect the Precordillera,” which can be translated as protect the foothills.

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Peñalolén parks have been developed as multifaceted spaces which offer educational, cultural, recreational, and demonstrative and applied research experiences aimed to promote development of environmental education and more. Topics included in education include topics of nutrient cycling through organic gardening, vermiculture, composting. Greenhouse and nursery, biodigesters and diodiesel, and other workshops are also offered. Parks have been referred to as the “green lungs” of the municipality and are highly valued. Quebrada de Macul is a natural park in the foothills of the metropolitan region that maintains strict visiting guidelines to preserve and protect the area. Sclerophyllous forest trails, waterways and waterfalls , and foot, horseback, and bicycle trails are all features in this park. Rules  were created and are enforced as a response to citizen initiatives within the community with the support of authorities to fight off garbage accumulation and pollution, vegetation destruction from bonfires, forest fires intentionally set, and the modification of water courses for bathing sites


P 513-556-4943
F 513-556-1274

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University of Cincinnati

School of Planning

5470 Aronoff
University of Cincinnati
PO Box 210016
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0016