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Stolen Land and Fading Forests in Chile

Environmental Paper Network 23 June 2022

By Sergio Baffoni

A new report from the Environmental Paper Network reveals another case of “Conflict Plantations,” this time in Chile.  

Find the full report here: Conflict Plantations Chapter 3: Stolen land and fading forests in Chile available in Spanish too.

Since May 7th the military police have been sent again to garrison Araucania, Southern-central Chile, where the pulp & paper industry is embroiled in a longstanding conflict with the Mapuche indigenous people. This is not a good sign. A few months ago, in November 2021, the former President Piñera had declared a state of emergency in the same area: a few days later, two members of the Mapuche community were killed by the military police, showing once again, that exceptional measures only increased mistrust and violence in a longstanding conflict.

The conflict over the land in the region started almost half a century ago, in 1974, when forestry companies, supported by the military dictatorship, took the indigenous land to develop plantations. On these plantations, heavily subsidized by the military junta, two of these companies built the current pulp & paper conglomerates, Celulosa Arauco y Constitución and Compañía Manufacturera de Papeles y Cartones (CMPC).

In the same decades, vast expanses of natural forests were converted into plantations. Timber plantations expanded by a factor of ten between 1975 and 2007 and now occupy almost half (43%) of the Southern-central Chilean landscape. Meanwhile, natural forests shrunk. For example, in the Nahuelbuta Mountain Range between the Bio Bío and Araucanía regions, in the 25 years between 1986 and 2011, one third of natural forests were replaced by timber monocultures.

The return of democracy in Chile did not remedy the damage: natural forests have not been restored, nor have stolen lands been returned to their traditional owners. On the contrary, large-scale plantations have continued to expand and put pressure on surrounding habitats.

To read more visit Environmental Paper Network.

Find the full report here: Conflict Plantations Chapter 3: Stolen land and fading forests in Chile available in Spanish too.