FORESTRY IN CHILE

Standing in the mist, amidst lush greenery and surrounded by acres of tall fir trees, it seemed like western Oregon – only this was Chile, almost 7,000 miles from the heart of the Douglas-fir region.  My Extension colleague Nicole Strong and I were touring the University of Austral’s research forest near Valdivia, during an 8-day journey from the capital city, Santiago, through the south central part of the country, visiting forests and foresters along the way.  Guided by Fred Smith, a retired OSU professor now living in Chile, we saw native forests and forest plantations along with whitewater rivers, snowcapped volcanoes, and rural farmland in a mix that was both familiar and exotic.   Our Chilean hosts were warm and friendly, and the atmosphere was very European in this country which is probably the most affluent in Latin America.  Below are a few photos from our trip.  We are planning a forestry study tour to Chile for landowners and natural resource professionals in November 2014.  More details on that to come soon, along with a full report on our visit.

 

Sharing a joke with the University of Austral research forest director.  The Douglas-firs in the background were no joke, however:  40 years old, pruned to a height of 20 feet or more, and growing at more than 2,000 board feet per acre per year – better than Oregon’s best Site Class 1 and several times the growth rates of trees locally.  Fred Smith photo.

Mapping out the route with our Chilean forester guide on CMPC-Minnico lands near Concepcion.  The radiata pines in the background are ready for harvest – at about 22 years.  The trees are pruned to produce clear wood.  Many Chilean plantations are grown on what was formerly eroded cropland and pasture.   Plantations occupy something like 12% of the total forest area, with the remainder in “native” forest.  Fred Smith photo.

Radiata grown in Chile, destined for Dubai.  Forest products are Chile’s second leading export.  Destinations of exported lumber (logs are not exported) include China, Japan, the Middle East, Europe, and North America.  CMPC is an FSC-certified company.  Nicole Strong photo.

Eucalyptus with Abies in the understory, Univeristy of Austral arboretum.  Eucalytus in Chilean plantations is harvested on a 12-year rotation and used for pulp.  Nicole Strong photo.

 

A bit of tree hugging in the native forest.  Chile’s native forests occupy more than ¾ of the total forest area.  They include many endemic (found nowhere else) species such as the Monkey Puzzle tree and the Alerce (Fitzroya cupressoidesis), the oldest of which was measured at 3,622 years, making it the second longest lived species in the world after the bristlecone pine.  The largest Alerce have exceeded 200 feet in height and reached 15 feet in diameter.   Nicole Strong photo.

Monkey puzzle trees overlooking lakes and mountains in south-central Chile, the region of our tour. 

Native forest at Bilo-Bilo Reserve with volcan Choshuenco beyond, hidden in the clouds.  Nicole photo.

“We buy morels” – forest products are not limited to logs and lumber.  Mushrooms are popular and many rural residents heat with wood.  Nicole photo.

We found this Port Orford-cedar plantation on the side of a mountain.  About 40 years old.  Nicole photo.

Our fall is of course springtime in Chile and the apple trees are in bloom.  Canola (?) in the background.  There are a lot of vineyards and wineries in Chile, too.  Nicole photo.

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