Chiloé Model Forest

Country:  Chile
Location:  Chiloé Archipelago, southern Chile
Year Joined IMFN: 1998
Area of Model Forest:   918 000 ha
Regional affiliation: Regional Model Forest Network for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC-Net)

Contact information

General Manager
Chacabuco 468
Castro - Chiloé

Phone:+ 56-65-638384
Fax:+ 56-65-638385
Web site:


Forest and Resource Profile

The Chiloé Archipelago is home to relatively intact forests in one of the ecoregions that is of highest conservation priority in Latin America due to its biological distinctiveness on a global scale. Regionally, the Archipelago also has the highest conservation priority. The Chiloé forest is evergreen, also known as temperate forest, with a rich diversity of forest sub-types and flora and fauna, some of which are highly endemic. Despite the global importance of conserving the Chiloé forest, local practices are a threat to its stability.

The area set aside initially for the Model Forest was 173 000 hectares, including the southern part of Chiloé National Park, Lemuy Island, two cities and several small private properties, some of which are owned by indigenous communities of the Huilliche ethnic group. After three years of operation, the Model Forest was expanded to include the entire Chiloé Archipelago, which has a population of 140 000, more than half of whom live in rural areas. The rustic landscape, along with its invaluable cultural and historical heritage, attracts tourists from other parts of Chile and around the world.

Economic Profile

Agricultural subsistence production is vitally important in the region, followed by some industrial activity related to forestry and pisciculture (Nursery Ponds). Farming and livestock are the primary economic activities, while, to a lesser extent, small-scale fishing is also economically significant. The most important product in the economy of Chiloé is firewood, which is used in large quantities for heating homes and cooking.

Why a Model Forest?

When designing management tools that will promote the conservation and sustainable use of the native Chiloé forest, it is essential to consider the following factors that threaten its stability:

  • Non-sustainable management of the native forest for firewood production: Due to a lack of capital and difficulties in accessing markets, farmers of Chiloé have had to generate income using their own limited resources. As a result, they derive their income by extensively exploiting the forest, with little concern for sustainability. Chiloé has one of the highest rates of firewood consumption (7m3/person/per year), largely because houses in Chiloé are not insulated and the wood stoves and heaters are not energy efficient. Firewood accounts for 90 percent of the wood extracted from the forest (1 000 000 m3 per year).
  • The Use of Forests as Pastoral Lands: In order to cope with the lack of resources, local farmers expand their pasturelands by successively cutting deeper into the forest. This deforestation provides very fertile land for pasture or farming activities. This process can be repeated endlessly as "cleared" pastures are more valuable to the chilote farmer than forests. Over centuries, this widespread practice has eliminated thousands of hectares of forests in Chiloé.
  • Lack of Economic Alternatives: Since small-scale farmers have no access to alternative ways of generating income, they have traditionally resorted to a subsistence form of economy characterized by vulnerability. In terms of trade, local farmers suffer all the disadvantages of the market system and reap none of its benefits. Due to their geographical isolation and lack of capital, they buy their raw materials in unfavourable conditions but cannot take advantage of the instruments available to improve the marketing of their product. Agricultural production is based on traditional farming. No policies have been developed to encourage alternative livelihoods, so the threat to native forests continues to grow.


  • Ministry of Agriculture
  • Administration of the Tenth Region
  • CONAF (National Forest Corporation)
  • INFOR (Institute for Forestry Research)
  • Institute for Agricultural Development
  • CET (Centre for Education and Technology)
  • Obispado de Ancud (Bishopric of Ancud)
  • the private sector
  • Indigenous Leaders Council of Buta Huapi Chilhué
  • Senda Darwin Foundation
  • Education Corporation
  • Municipality of Castro

The Association also collaborates frequently with many national and international organizations including the Canadian CUSO; the UNDP in Chile; the Fondo de las Américas; Servicio País de la Fundación Nacional para la Superación; British Columbia Institute of Technology, Universidad ARCIS Patagonia; DED (German Service for Technical and Social Cooperation), and others.

Strategic Goals

The strategic vision is to promote the sustainable use of the natural resources associated with the forest's ecosystems, while maintaining their characteristics and ecological processes. The main components of the Chiloé Model Forest are the identification, development and implementation of new and innovative approaches, practices and technologies strongly rooted in an improved knowledge of ecosystem characteristics and dynamics. By uniting scientific knowledge with farmers' knowledge and an ecological approach, it is possible to develop and apply an integrated natural resources management system that is acceptable to all participants.



Accomplishments to date

  • Development of a strong, broadly based, efficient partnership, which has facilitated the expansion of the Model Forest area from 173 000 to 918 000 ha
  • Development of a methodology that promotes community participation and the strengthening of civil society, through calls for proposals for sustainable development projects
  • Establishment of participatory forums on topics such as environmental education, sustainable management of the forest, indigenous communities, social housing, handicrafts and rural tourism
  • Creation of a Centre for Environmental Education, and strengthening capacities toward the creation of new curriculum and teaching materials for environmental education in local schools
  • Promotion of alternative economic activities that generate additional income for the local population
  • Addition of new partners that provide professional and financial resources to support the current activities and allow for the expansion of activities into new areas
  • An increase in the number of participating and partner organizations, and thereby an increase and diversification of funding sources