Overview of Chilean Forestry
Chile is located in the southwestern part of South America and possesses a wide variety of ecosystems - ranging from deserts in the north to temperate rainforests in the south. Forestland covers 20.7% of the country, roughly equal to 15.6 million hectares. The rest of the country is covered by deserts (32.7%), and prairies and shrubs (27.1%).
Chilean native forests cover 17.8% of the national territory, whereas forest plantations, mainly Pinus radiata and different species of Eucalyptus, cover 2.8% of the nation.
Chilean forests range from Chilean Palm forests and Sclerophyllous forests (composed of tree species adapted to drier climates) in north-central Chile to prehistoric Araucaria forests, temperate rainforests, and Alerce forests— the “redwoods of the Andes”— in the South. These forests are classified as temperate forests because of their geographical location outside the tropics and because they experience high rainfall and low temperatures in winter. Similar forests are found in Tasmania, New Zealand and the Pacific Northwest in North America.
Protection of natural ecosystems in Chile is centered on SNASPE, the National System of Protected Natural Areas. SNASPE is administered by CONAF (National Forest Corporation) and includes 31 national parks, 48 national reserves and 15 natural monuments. Fourteen million hectares are protected under this system.
The growing forest sector plays a fundamental role in the economy, currently representing 3.5% of the Internal Gross Product, making forestry the second most important economic activity after mining. Currently, forest exports amount to $3.4 billion US, representing 11% of Chile's total exports.
Currently, Chile exports more than 500 different forest products to more than 940 companies worldwide. Forest products are exported to 86 markets on five continents, including markets in the United States, Japan, South Korea, Argentina, China and Belgium.
For more information about Chile and its forests, please visit the web pages listed below.
Corporacion Nacional Forestal (CONAF) (en espanol)
Instituto Forestal (INFOR) (en espanol)
Chile's Frontier Forests: Conserving a Global Treasure (in english)
Chile Factbook (in english)