Plans for forest rehabilitation in Chilean Patagonia underway

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Santiago Times - As emergency workers finish extinguishing the last traces of fire in Torres del Paine National Park, now the government is beginning to look at the next critical phase in handling the disaster in Chile’s world-famous adventure destination.

The National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) is in the process of putting together a restoration plan which will attempt to reforest the sections destroyed by wildfire.

A swiftly devised and executed recovery strategy is vital as failure to do so could result in further ecological damage.

“When winter comes, if the ground is left without topsoil it can heavily increase erosion making it difficult to recover,” Sergio Donoso, a professor at the Universidad de Chile and president of the non-profit Association of Forest Engineers, told El Mercurio.

Forestation experts will use the aftermath of the 2005 forest fire in Torres del Paine as a reference point while formulating a course of action.

They predict that April will be a key month, as it proved to be the most productive for the collection of beech tree seedlings. The beech tree forests were most heavily impacted by the fires, with some of the trees destroyed being up 300 years old.

Once collected, the seeds will be taken to Puerto Natales some 90 miles away and planted in four greenhouses. These greenhouses are unlike others in the area and were built to withstand powerful winds of 90mi/h along with the weight of heavy snowfall on the roof.

Through the National Youth Institutes's (INJUV) plea for help, over 10,000 volunteers have already signed up to help with the program. Read more..
 



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