Santiago Times - Over the past century, large scale deforestation, devastating fires and monoculture planting have provoked the rapid decline of Chile's native forest. This seemingly inexorable trend is soon hoped to be reversed with the start of the largest reforestation program in Chile’s history.
Lenga, also known as Southern Beech, is a tree native to Chile's south. (Photo provided by Fundación Imagen de Chile)
Reforestemos Patagonia, promoted by Fundación Imagen de Chile (FiCh), is a nonprofit initiative hoping to plant over a million native trees (Southern Beech) in Chilean Patagonia throughout 2012. The program is designed to reinvigorate the endemic flora in national parks such as Torres del Paine, Lake Carlota, Laguna San Rafael and Cerro Castillo.
“This is the most ambitious reforestation initiative in the history of Chile,” FiCh Executive Director Blas Tomic said in a press conference. “It encourages all Chilean citizens, not just ecologists and environmentalists, to take responsibility and help protect one of the most important natural ecosystems on our planet.”
The scheme started after the recent forest fires which devastated the iconic Torres del Paine national park, generating a wave of, largely critical, coverage in the international press.
"Patagonia is one of the core elements of Chile's international image and geographically distinctive in relation to other countries in the region,” Tomic said. “Torres del Paine is a destination which foreigners identify and value as the natural capital of Chile and the world.”
Despite consistent coverage in the international media and expressions of concern from foreign governments, damaged areas such as Torres del Paine have to this point seen very little outside help.
“Many people, countries and corporations spoke out and promised to help Chile following the fires,” Tomic said. “But in reality this is the first concrete plan for reforestation of the areas damaged.” Read more..