SANTIAGO – Between reforestation and afforestation, 100,000 hectares are planted in Chile on average every year – 160 million new trees.
Reforestation is the restocking of forests that have been depleted, while afforestation is the establishment of new forests. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Chile and Uruguay are the only South American countries where woodland has increased.
According to Fernando Raga, the president of the Chilean Wood Corporation (CORMA), these figures show the importance of planting forests for Chile – a situation that applies to the rest of the world. Among the four billion hectares of forests in the world, only 7% are planted forests, but they provide two thirds of the current wood production, alleviating the pressure on native woodland.
Raga says that forest plantation in Chile has doubled in nearly 30 years, increasing from 1,1 million hectares in 1984 to 2,4 million hectares in 2012.
“Of that total, 87% is situated on grounds with different levels of erosion, so it has generated real economic, social and environmental benefits – including the creation of jobs in the sector, which have increased from 65,000 to 122,000 in that period,” explains Raga.
The size of native woodland has been relatively stable since the National Cadastre of Native Vegetation Resources of Chile (1994-1997) landmark assessment on land resources.
At that time native woodland represented 13,4 million hectares, while the last update indicates that it reached 13,6 million hectares in 2011 – a net gain of 200,000 hectares in 15 years.