Alerce protection probed in Chile


The alerce tree, a rare South American conifer, enjoys special status here. Endemic to Chile and Argentina, it can be 150 feet (50 m) tall, 15 feet (5 m) in diameter and up to 4,000 years in age, which ranks it second only to California’s bristlecone pine as the world’s longest-lived tree. Small wonder that a local judge’s investigation here into the illegal cutting of alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides), a threatened species, has garnered national attention. The commotion began last month, when a local judge in Puerto Montt ordered Carlos Weber, executive director of Chile’s forest service, Conaf, detained for questioning. The judge, Rosa Muñoz, declines to comment. But Weber says she wanted him to respond to allegations that Chilean Senator Sergio Páez, a longstanding... [Log in to read more]

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