|We have a reforestation plan. We know there is
a program through the church. There are many alternatives
we do not know – just the other day, I was reading there
is a governmental reforestation program.
We want it very much. Actually, we were fighting to organize a training school, so that professors could come and give talks, but we have not been able to get it. Look, the governor does not give the support to do it.
We have received some foreign people here but later lost contact with them. As a society, we actually miss some support from the government. At present the government does not help people and organizations.
|You need money to invest in reforestation. You
have to reforest first and if 70% of the plantation is successful
then you get 70% of the total investment; and if you succeed
in 80% of the plantation after 3 years then you get 80% of
the total investment back.
You have to go to them with a program of what you want to do, a management plan, that needs to be signed by a forest engineer. But in this region we have no forest engineer, so we are unable to do it. CONAF will support you if you go to them with a program but they will not come to you to help you do that.
|Q: Do you think that the amount of trees you
have here has an influence on the microclimate you have?
A: Yes, it makes a difference. We see it every year with the fires: according to a technician decomposed air and smoke are forming a layer which does not let the moisture cross – we are missing the lung as we call it. We are old but we have to think of our children and grandchildren. It would be very easy to say that 'I am so old I am going to sell this land and enjoy the rest'. But we have to look back and remember our parents and grandparents who helped us to live and why would we be so selfish now?
|The best of the farmers take very good care of the
farms. They appreciate vegetation, they try to keep every
tree alive as much as possible and to plant some, you've seen
some eucalyptus. Not too bad. This is the only reasonable
thing to do. I really think that if we were a rich nation,
what a government should do is subsidize people who are able
to stay here, and try to never touch a tree, maybe get rid
of their cattle and keep this ecosystem alive and recovering.
||It's very difficult to regenerate the natural
vegetation. You can still see the beautiful native trees and
the type of the vegetation that used to be in the high hills
here. There is very little left now here. I knew a farmer
who had a very beautiful, big farm and he cared about native
plants. But he kept on selling pieces of land to survive;
it wasn't economical. It was unsustainable.
||It is very humid here, we have 90-98% of relative
humidity every night and all these trees, the acacia and the
?? and the big meadows where there is acacia capture this
humidity and return it to the soil to nurture the grass and
it's self sustaining. This increases productivity at least
at the beginning.
The problem here is that people have the chance of selling for somebody who wants to clear the air a bit, make a nice tennis court, a swimming pool, a nice week-end house and he won't be able to do that. So there are big economic interests at stake which I think will make it difficult to implement a broad practice of conservation. If development keeps taking place and new roads and houses, you will eventually lose an important part of this.
|The Chilean government will not respond much to
any pressure because the issue of natural resources has not
been an issue in the government. I hope that it'll be an issue
at the end of this government. But right now nobody cares
||We might establish methods and procedures for
integrating more natural areas into the (protected) system.
But we would need to be strong, especially against the mining
ministry because that minister puts more pressure on the systems
all the time. In 1976 they were trying to get water from the
Elauca. There was a big fight here. Now mining has been putting
pressure on our protection of other areas.
It seems that matorral is distributed in a piece of territory which is densely populated. Most of the lands where we still see patches of matorral are privately owned, so you wonder what the alternatives are. Should the State try to establish protected areas or should the State implement stronger regulations on the private owners to require them to recover the areas that have been strongly affected?
|One big problem, that's my personal impression,
one big problem with the Matorral is that nobody cares too
much about it. I work normally with people actively working
to create legislation to protect the forest and even they
don't care so much about this type of vegetation. In fact
if you see the history of this discussion about native forest
in Chile, matorral is completely absent most of the time.
All discussions about the south or the central-south part
of Chile. I would say in fact that CONAF, and a few people
in NGOs are concerned about this kind of vegetation.
|We need environmental study before the regulation.
All our permits for about fifteen years have included an environmental
study, evironmental evaluation. With time the studies are
bigger – in the past they were few pages. But always
we dedicate some part of our work to environmental study.
We need to remove all the installation, clean it and all the different things to try to return the area to the ambient state.
In this case the regulation is fine. We discussed with them to use, to consume this water in a forest and in an eucalyptus forest. Ideally we have about six million kilometers of water to use in a forest irrigation.
|Each one of these has their own set of regulations
with which you have to comply. Each agency that you described:
the National Health Service, the DGA, all have their own regulations
and you have to satisfy each of them.
Our case is very special because there are irrigation norms defining the quality of the water you can use in irrigation. There are no regulations for waste water. At this moment, there are no regulations for our kind of water, except irrigation norms and our water is not qualified for that.
|When you are selling in an international market,
and you receive criticism, you can have problems because some
countries say we don't buy Chilean copper because Chileans
don't take care of their environment. This is only going to
get worse in the future. All big mining companies now need
to manage the environment. We hire an environmental consultant
|National Park Scientists
|Some zones are called the nucleo of the park. In
this nucleo is represented all the major ecosystems of the
park, and that should be kept as pristine as possible. There
are some peripheral areas around the nucleo zone which are
called primary zone and this zone permits a certain kind of
management for research and manipulations; they also include
the place for visitors and for education. There is a completely
new idea to incorporate into the park areas outside the park
in which certain species could be protected, for instance
all animals which are outside the park, and trying to incorporate
the people outside the park in this eco–area.
||Some people look at the phenomena of restoration
in a very short time frame. For instance you have a plan to
recover the forest, they want to see the forest improving
Now the congress is discussing the law of the native forest and this contain a lot of mistakes, because they are not using the advise of the scientists, because a lot of people give opinions without enough information background to make good regulations, to make good laws and that is one of the problems. Another problem in Chile is the media people who are not prepared to give correct information about science. You have, he general journalists, you don't have biologists. Some journalists who write about involved with ecology and biology, first should be a biologist and then be a journalist. Otherwise the information coming out in the media informs people incorrectly.
Another big problem is that nobody wants finance long-term studies. You have to keep modifying a little bit the objectives of the program or to add more objectives to keep the system working because they say OK we finance this project already. The people don't understand too much the idea to keep scientific experiments running because sometimes is very difficult when you say well I want to do a long-term study because after three or tour years something can happen.
|Really I'm very optimistic about the future.
There is much more talk in Chile now about the environment
problem, about... It's only been for the last five or six
or seven years.... but I think this means there is a big potentiality
in using this scientific knowledge for management policy,
specially or at least at the beginning for plant regeneration.
The idea that we are discussing the paper is, it comes from
a lot of experimental resources. During the El Niño
you have this big opportunity, there is an increase preservation
and the idea we are discussing is that if we put all the effort
in restoration during this opening, this time window we have,
during el Niño we can trigger a change and that could
have potentially, I think, an important policy effect.