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The Forest Industry in Chile: The Key to Reactivating the Post-Pandemic Economy

A World Bank study considers the country a benchmark for sustainable forestry

Coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic, health crisis and confinement. Five key words that define 2020, which has undoubtedly generated a lot of uncertainty in various areas. But there are positive sides to everything and a World Bank study has found that Chilean forestry policies have positioned Chile as a world benchmark for sustainable forestry precisely in these difficult times.

During the presentation of the study, Youssef Nassef, Director of the Adaptation Division of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, assured that “Chile has come a long way. It has become one of the few countries in the world to reduce its deforestation rate and increase its forest areas. This success has also undoubtedly contributed to the conservation of the rich biodiversity and natural resources found in the country, many of which are world heritage sites.” The country has increased its wooded area by 10% as the global trend is towards the loss of forests.

Rodrigo Munita, Director of CONAF, for his part, assured that “in Chile, there is 4.7 times more native forest than plantations. 99% of industrial wood comes from plantations and there are 22,000 medium and small plantation owners and 80,000 native forest owners. Regarding the resource, there are more than 100,000 medium and small owners” and he added that “today, the forestry sector contributes 2.1% of the national GDP, 9.1% of total exports, generates 121,000 direct jobs and close to 180,000 indirect jobs, which adds up to more than 300,000 people who work, carry out and develop their lives around the sector.”

Forests and climate change

During the presentation of the World Bank study, the book ““Chile's Forests: A Pillar for Inclusive and Sustainable Development””, was also launched, an event that brought together CONAF, the Ministry of Agriculture and international experts, and which emphasized that “it is more important than ever to keep in mind how valuable forest products are for the development of our communities. We must understand that living with and from our forests is fundamental for our communities. Especially for the most vulnerable,” as stated by Anna Wallenstin, Director of Sustainable Development for Latin America and the Caribbean at the World Bank. Juan José Ugarte, President of the Chilean Wood Corporation (CORMA) pointed out that “this World Bank report is an acknowledgment of Chile's forestry vocation. As a sector, we have been working for years on a new generation of forests, where plantations coexist harmoniously with native ecosystems, allowing us to produce goods based on the circular economy. As a country, we must work together to achieve carbon neutrality, and forests are key to achieving that.”