Forestry in Chile

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For the South American country Chile , forestry is one of the most important economic sectors alongside mining, agriculture and fishing. 15 million people live in the country on an area twice the size of Germany, of which 20% are forested. See also the economy of Chile .

Plantations and virgin forests

In Chile, natural forests are also used for logging, but around 70% of the amount felled is obtained from plantations . The huge artificial forests consist mainly of fast-growing pines ( pino insigne or Pinus radiata ) and eucalyptus ( Eucalyptus spec ), which are exotic in Chile, i.e. do not occur naturally.

Some eroded areas and fallow land are reforested, but some intact ecosystems are also destroyed. In addition to negative effects on biodiversity , there are consequences from water abstraction and contamination. Eucalyptus requires much more water than most native species and may lower the water table when it is extracted. Artificial fertilizers , pesticides , herbicides and other agrochemicals often poison the water and soil around the plantations.

The plantations have been specifically created for around 40 years. As early as the 1960s, under Eduardo Frei Montalva and under Salvador Allende , the state planted extensive forests for later logging. In the 1970s and 1980s, 80,000 hectares were replanted annually (that is almost the size of Berlin). While the military junta carried out far-reaching neoliberal reforms after the putsch by Augusto Pinochet , it only actively pursued industrial policy in the forestry sector . Law 701 ( Ley 701 ) of 1974 grants a state subsidy of 75% on new plantings. Privately planted land was declared non-exempt. Numerous regulations (such as the ban on felling young trees under the age of 18 and the export ban on raw wood) have been abolished in order to improve the investment climate. The Banco del Estado provided subsidized loans to the sector.


In addition to natural wood, the most important products in this area are wood pellets, paper , cellulose and, increasingly, furniture. In Chile, 41 million cubic meters of wood are felled every year .

Timber industry

In the 1970s and 1980s, large parts of the state's forest holdings that had previously been administered by the Corporación Nacional Forestal (CONAF) were privatized . As is customary under Pinochet, state property was sold hastily, under-valued and ill-prepared. The result is immense market concentration in the form of a tight monopoly and the dominance of large corporations. Today all plantations and 70% of the primeval forests are privately owned. The two groups Arauco SA (the name comes from the small Chilean town of Arauco , whose name is derived from the Chilean araucaria ) and EMPRESAS CMPC SA (55% owned by the industrial family Matte) are responsible for 47% of the logging. Empreses CMPC is also known under its subsidiary Mininco. Small and medium-sized enterprises hardly play a role. Due to less and less free space, both companies are increasingly expanding into northern Argentina , Bolivia and Brazil .

Importance for export

While exports of wood and wood products totaled only US $ 105 million in 1973 (in 1995 prices), it had risen to US $ 1.8 billion by 1995.

Export and the importance of wood products.
Source: IHK Pfalz
1991 1996 2000 2003 2004 2005
Total value of all exports in billion US $ 8.9 15.4 19.2 21.5 32 40
Value of cellulose & paper 0.45 1.01 1.41 1.23 1.63
Share of cellulose & paper 5.0 6.5 6.4 5.7 5.1

Protection of people and the environment

The main areas for logging are the small and large south of the country. Both felling and large-scale planting with monocultures threaten the settlement areas of the Mapuche . In order to break the increasing resistance of the indígenas , the current democratic governments of the Concertación still apply the anti-terror laws with which they themselves were suppressed by the Pinochet regime. "The actions of the forestry and the state represent a clear violation of the economic, social and cultural rights of the Mapuche", says the special envoy of the United Nations , Rudolfo Stavenhagen.

The government has been working on a law to protect natural forests ( Ley de Bosque nativo ) since 1992 . Strong lobbying in ministries and in the Senate has repeatedly prevented a passing. The reason for this is also that there is the environmental authority Comisión Nacional del Medio Ambiente (CONAMA) in Chile , but no Ministry of the Environment. For more on the problem, see also the political system of Chile .

In addition to the numerous national parks in Chile, there are also private initiatives to protect nature and forests. The US billionaire Douglas Tompkins (who formerly owned the textile companies Esprit Holdings and The North Face ) founded the private Pumalín Park south of Puerto Montt . With an area of ​​7560 km², this corresponds to one percent of the country's area.


Individual evidence

  1. Chile (South America) . Retrieved April 10, 2019.