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World Bank Latin America and Caribbean Region, Corporación Nacional Forestal (CONAF)
Chile: Forests, Trees and Conservation in Degraded Lands
Chile is one of the most developed countries in the southern hemisphere and relies heavily on its natural resource base for employment and exports. Yet, despite its natural assets and economic prowess, the country is plagued by serious land degradation problems including desertification, accelerated soil erosion, and forest degradation. In addition, climate change is exacerbating land degradation through changes in rainfall quantity and regimen, and the melting of glaciers, which are critical for the country’s water supply.
An astounding two-thirds of the national territory (48 million ha) are affected or threatened by desertification and drought (CONAF 2006). Of the 1.3 million people inhabiting these areas, about 60 percent live in poverty. The main causes of desertification and land degradation in Chile are due to overgrazing, farming on marginal lands without conservation practices, and over-exploitation or poor management of forests. In fact, about half of Chile’s 15.4 million ha of forests are already degraded. Forest degradation is advancing at about 77,000 ha annually, and occurs mainly in the southern forests, where fuelwood extraction is a major contributor to the problem. Despite this alarming situation, there is only an emerging awareness regarding the degradation issues, and the country has yet to make significant advances to counter land and forest degradation. Urgent steps are needed to align country policies and programs to tackle the problem, provide technical guidance to field workers and heighten awareness nationwide.
The main objective of this activity is to provide state-of-the-art knowledge to the Chilean Government and other stakeholders on best practices and guidance for restoration of degraded lands through forestry applications suitable in the Chilean context.
This knowledge activity supported by PROFOR would include:
- a review of the many pilots and ad hoc experiences in Chile to restore degraded lands through forestry (including economic, social and environmental benefits);
- an analysis of the investment returns of select experiences, to demonstrate that the reversal of land degradation, climate change mitigation and the generation of income can be achieved simultaneously under specific conditions;
- a projection of the carbon sequestration potential for afforestation and reforestation of degraded lands in appropriate areas throughout Chile;
- a proposal for a monitoring system that would track desertification and progress in remedial efforts to address land degradation;
- outreach and awareness building activities on the scope and impact of land degradation and remedial measures needed to slow its advance, especially those related to forests and trees.
Author : World Bank Latin America and Caribbean Region, Corporación Nacional Forestal
Last Updated : 02-24-2017