Chile Enacts Landmark Bill to Protect its Forests after 15 Years
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It was bound to happen eventually: After 15 years of hemming and hawing over the fate of the country's forests, the Chilean parliament has finally approved the landmark Native Forest Law; in addition to setting forests apart for preservation, the bill will encourage their sustainable use and fund related research projects. "This law introduces an ecosystemic vision that does not consider the forest just as a wood source, but as a benefit for the community, since it sets funds for forest recovery and for its non-lumber management," said Antonio Lara, dean of the forestry science faculty at Valdivia's Austral University.
The law will establish an initial yearly fund of $8m, with the possibility of creating an additional one to further "boost scientific and technological research related to the native forest and the protection of its biodiversity, soil, water sources, flora, fauna and the associated ecosystems." An advisory council - consisting of various government, forestry, NGO and scientific authorities - will be set up to ensure the law's application and propose changes. According to the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture, the law should allow for the country to both preserve 500,000 hectares of native forest and recover 600,000 hectares for productive use over the next 15 years. One potential use for the biomass obtained from forest waste could be the production of biofuel, the ministry suggested.