Facts

  • Pucon ForestToday, about 34 percent of Chile’s forests qualify as frontier forest–tracts of at least 5,000 hectares, classified as mature forests or dense timberline forests that are intact or only slightly altered. Only a third of all forest is in relatively undisturbed tracts of at least 10,000 hectares.
  • Many frontier forests are in areas with steep slopes or located at high altitudes. As such, they are particularly sensitive to human disturbance. Despite their vulnerability, only 27 percent of frontier forests are protected.
  • Fragmented stands of mature native forests (smaller than 5,000 hectares) are, in some regions, the only remaining habitats for a variety of species, such as small, endangered mammals and birds. In many areas of the country, particularly in administrative Regions VI and VII, these fragments represent the only remaining stands of native forests. These remnants constitute an important genetic reservoir for the future restoration of these ecosystems.
  • Frontier forests are at greatest risk within: – Coastal mountain range forests in administrative Region X, which house 7.5 percent of Chile’s remaining frontier forest, but are the least represented in the protected areas systems, even though they house a rich and diverse range of species. The major threats to these forests are non-native plantation developments, inadequate enforcement of regulations, and plans for a new coastal highway. – Region VIII, where only 2 percent of native forests remain as frontier forest, of which 80 percent is unprotected. Most of the country’s forest industries are concentrated in this region.
  • A considerable amount of Chile’s native forest has been converted to plantations, most of which are dominated by exotic species, primarily Monterey pine (Pinus radiata) and several species of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.). Most of the country’s timber production comes from these fast-growing plantations, which in large part have been established by clearing native forests.
  • Even though Chile has specific forest-protection and management laws, these are partially implemented, and do not constitute an adequate forest management policy framework to assure stewardship and sustainable use of native forests. While currently only a small share of wood products comes from native forests (largely production of wood chips for pulp), this may change, given growing interest in establishing a second oriented strand board (OSB) panel industry, with wood supplied by native forests. In addition there are also two new planned cellulose plants that will place higher demand on land for establishing forestry plantations. A solid forestmanagement policy for sustainable timber production from native forests would improve the long-term survival of these unique forest systems while addressing wood supply demands.