Chile pledges forest-cover gains ... but what kind?


Eucalyptus plantation in Chile's Araucanía Region (Photo by Carlos Zamorano)

As countries across Latin America struggle with deforestation, Chile stands out as an exception. During the 20-year period ending in 2017, the South American nation’s forested land area grew from 15.6 million hectares (60,000 square miles) to 17.7 million (68,000 square miles), government figures show. Experts call the gains deceiving, however, pointing out that they have been driven largely by the expansion in recent decades of monoculture plantations of exotic species such as eucalyptus and pine. Single-species tree plantations have proliferated in Chile since 1974, when the military dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet launched subsidies and tax incentives designed to spur domestic production of pulp and other wood products. Though plantation-forestry’s growth has slowed since the supports ended in 2012, it has not stopped. In 2011 tree plantations covered 2.9 million hectares (11,000 square miles). By 2017, according to government figures, they occupied 3.1 million (12,000 square... [Log in to read more]

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