forest chileThe temperate forests of Chile are classified a biological ‘‘hotspot’’ as a result of their high species diversity and high endemism. However, they are being rapidly destroyed, with significant negative impacts on biodiversity. Three land-cover maps were derived from satellite imagery acquired over 25 years (1975, 1990 and 2000), and were used to assess the patterns of deforestation and forest fragmentation in the coastal range of south-central Chile. Between 1975 and 2000, there was a reduction in natural forest area of 67% in the study area, which is equivalent to an annual forest loss rate of 4.5% per year using a compound-interest-rate formula.

Forest fragmentation was associated with a decrease in forest patch size, which was associated with a rapid increase in the density of small patches (<100 ha), and a decrease in area of interior forest and in connectivity among patches. Since the 1970s, native forest loss was largely caused by an expansion of commercial plantations, which was associated with substantial changes in the spatial configuration of the native forests. By 2000, most native forest fragments were surrounded by highly connected exotic-species plantations. The assessment of forest loss and fragmentation provides a basis for future research on the impacts of forest fragmentation on the different component of biodiversity. Conservation strategies and land use planning of the study area should consider the spatial configuration pattern of native forest fragments and how this pattern changes over time and space at landscape level.

source: Rapid deforestation and fragmentation of Chilean Temperate Forests
by Cristian Echeverria a,b, * ,1 , David Coomes a , Javier Salas c , Jose´ Marı´a Rey-Benayas d , Antonio Lara b , Adrian Newton