In a nutshell
A large percentage of the Alto Malleco territory is covered by native forests (45%), meadows and scrublands (35%) and their characteristic flora and fauna, including the unique Araucaria araucana forest, known as pehuén in the Mapuche language, which explains why it is so important to have a Model Forest in place in the region.
It is the natural space inhabited by countless communities of the Mapuche-Pehuenche peoples, as well as settlers and landowners. Six units belonging to the National System of Protected Areas (SNASPE), administered by the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF), are also included in this territory. The sector is mostly a mountain range, furrowed by large valleys that contain some of the most important river basins in southern Chile (the Bio Bio and Toltén rivers).
The above circumstances give rise to a challenging scenario in terms of promoting sustainable development to protect the ancestral landscape while simultaneously allowing access to material goods. Some of the main goals of the Araucarias del Alto Malleco Model Forest (BMAAM) include learning to apply integral land management on the mostly small sized land plots; learning about non-timber forest products; including organic and protected cultivation technologies; improving cattle breeds to increase efficiency; and raising awareness about better management of firewood, the local fuel.
The BMAAM landscape represents a physiographic unit of the region’s mountain landscape, with severe climate conditions and a varied presence of fragile natural resources under different conservation schemes. Among them, the Araucaria, Lenga beech (Nothofagus pumilio) and Patagonia oak-rauli beech-coigüe are the most important forest types, along with vast natural steppes and bare areas. The area covered by the BMAAM is crucial in terms of generating important water flows that reach both the Bio Bio and the Araucanía regions.
The main productive activities are forestry and livestock. In the Lonquimay area, specifically, livestock activities comprise approximately 120,000 animals, of which almost half are moved to highland or “summer” pastures during the summer season (extensive livestock), thus exerting a negative impact on ecosystem sustainability through soil deterioration, a decrease in grassland productivity and vegetation regeneration. In Curacautín, more than 10% of the surface is dedicated to annual crops. Forest related productive activities yield some benefits, but raise certain issues, as well, regarding inadequate timber forest resource management and massive firewood extraction for self-consumption and sale, which have caused a continuous forest degradation. However, mushroom and pine nut gathering (non-timber forest products) has gained some traction, which in turn motivates better forest stewardship, in addition to better advisory and control by the country’s forest entities.
In terms of social structure, most of the population is rural, with approximately 70% of rural inhabitants in Lonquimay and 30% in Curacautín.
As of July 5, 2013, the BMAAM is constituted as a private non-profit association, governed by Title XXXIII regulations, First Book of the Civil Code, and Law 20,500 on Associations and Citizen Participation in Public Management.
The BMAAM Association is composed of 14 partners from different rural and urban environments, and diverse economic activities. Every two years, a Board of five members is democratically elected (president, secretary, treasurer and two directors) to meet at regular periods. Once a year, a General Assembly of Members is held, responsible for sanctioning the Board’s working plan for the following year and deciding on the incorporation of new members. An external Executive Director acting as Board advisor, whose salary is funded through grants from public organizations, is in charge of implementing the plan.
- To achieve a sustainable management of existing resources, through active participation from the community in an integrated management scheme along with stakeholders of diverse origin and nature, thus contributing improving the living conditions of the population, as well.
- To promote the conservation and sustainable use of forest resources and associated ecosystems, based on the self-management of local communities through activities relating to production, culture, tourism, training, dissemination and others.
- To maintain and promote the environment, biodiversity and sustainable development, in cooperation with territorial planning.
Key actions in place to reach these goals:
In October 2002, the BMAAM was officially incorporated into the International Model Forest Network. This fact is particularly important to share demonstration projects through IMFN activities, establish links with other Model Forests and participate in global processes such as developing and applying local sustainable forest management indicators, and incorporating indigenous and peasant groups into natural resource stewardship and management, of forests in particular.
Recently, the BMAAM has participated in or worked on projects and activities such as:
- An information flyer on invasive alien species expansion and management;
- A development, diversification and production chain program for three non-timber forest products (pine nut, morel and rosehip);
- Furthering its strategic alliances, resources and organizational capacity;
- Coordinating a leadership training program for the local community;
- Reforesting smallholder properties with Araucaria;
- Participating in civil society’s call to establish the new Malalcahuello Forest Reserve Management Plan.
- The strategic alliance established by the Model Forest and the Native Forest Sustainable Management Program generates significant impacts in terms of native forest management and land-use planning, focused on younger or renewable forest formations, which allows for better yields than adult forest management. Training landowners in the sustainable management of their resources is an important feature of this program.
- As the Platform for the Implementation of the GEF Project “Sustainable Mediterranean Communities”, innovative capacities and functions were installed in the Ránquil, Llames, Captrén and Manchuria rural communities during two stages of one year and a half each.
- Although many current participants and beneficiaries were neighbors, they did not know each other. Today, they are joined through commercial and friendship connections, which have in turn paved a harmonious path for BMAAM activities— the Pehuenche people are now linked with entrepreneurs, institutions with settlers, and municipalities with the population, among multiple other relationships.
Learn more about Araucarias del Alto Malleco Model Forest :
Follow Araucarias del Alto Malleco Model Forest on Facebook (page in Spanish)
PNUD Chile webpage, note: Comunidades rurales de La Araucanía ejecutarán tres proyectos de desarrollo sostenible con apoyo del PNUD (in Spanish)
PNUD Chile webpage: Comunidades Mediterráneas Sostenibles (in Spanish)
Ministry of the Environment web note: Ministro Badenier inauguró proyecto GEF destinado al desarrollo de emprendimiento locales en la zona mediterránea de nuestro país (in Spanish)
Ministry of the Environment web note: Habitantes de Lonquimay reciben capacitación en elaboración de productos no madereros del bosque nativo (in Spanish)