Posted on 21 November 2017
Study tour will focus on solutions for restoring landscapes damaged by fires and retrieve ecosystem services for local communities.
In January, Chile suffered the most catastrophic fires in its recorded history, which destroyed around 600,000 hectares of plantations, native forest, grasslands and agricultural land. The fire was so strong that entire communities were destroyed, including a town where more than 3,000 inhabitants lost their homes.
In a study tour hosted by WWF's New Generation Plantations
(NGP), Mininco, Arauco and WWF-Chile, participants will visit the region of Maule in central Chile, which suffered the greatest damage. Participants from around the world will learn and share insights and experiences as we seek to develop solutions for restoring landscapes, retrieve ecosystem services for local communities and strengthen their resilience.
It’s clear that new approaches are needed. As we seek to restore the forests and landscapes destroyed by the fire, we need to rethink our approach to landscape design and management to reduce fire risk under the new climate paradigm. Replacing large contiguous areas of single-aged monoculture plantations with mosaics of different species and ages, interspersed with biodiversity corridors, restored areas of native vegetation and agricultural areas may help improve fire resistance. But this alone is not enough. More adaptive strategies with strong local community involvement are needed to enable rapid and effective responses to unpredictable events.
"We are aware that new fire scenarios need to incorporate a national perspective," says Camila Merino, Arauco's Vice President of Forestry. "Arauco needs to exercise leadership and adapt to these events, creating new solutions and collaborating with others. The DeRaíz programme, which involves 14 measures that are already being implemented and that address prevention, protection, reforestation and economic drive, is an opportunity to work not only on lessons learned but also on addressing controversies. We need a forestry sector that is more engaged with communities and society as a whole. We are convinced that this initiative will help us to achieve this."
Eduardo Hernández, Forestry Manager, CMPC, comments: "We have left behind the hardest wildfire season in the history of our country and our company. The catastrophe exceeded all expectations. We must learn the lessons from what happened. The challenge is huge, but every crisis is also an opportunity. We need to re-assess the best of the forest policy that has allowed Chile to occupy a privileged position as a world-class forestry producer, incorporating concepts and actions that enable plantations to be part of a general resilient landscape. We trust that this NGP tour will contribute in an important way to sharing lessons and achieving this objective."