SANTIAGO, Chile, April 30, 2021 (Press Release) -Nearly a year ago in January 2020 a forest fire affected the community of Chiguayante in the Biobío Region. Due to the wind conditions, the flames reached the Nonguén National Reserve, which has been declared the last native forest refuge in Concepción.
"The fire that affected the area damaged about 90 hectares of terrain in the western portion of the park. Of that surface area, nearly 50% was native forest," said the Regional Director of the National Forest Corporation (CONAF), Francisco Pozo.
This is why CMPC, along with Fundación Reforestemos and CONAF jointed together in one alliance that plans to restore and recover the areas most affected by this big fire.
A ceremony was held at the Nonguén National Reserve located between the communities of Concepción, Hualqui and Chiguayante. The agreement was made official, launching the efforts around restoring and preserving the zones of high ecological value. It will be the first peri-urban park in the country. The symbolic planting was attended by regional authorities including Governor of Concepción Julio Anativia, Mayors of Concepción and Chiguayante Álvaro Ortiz and Antonio Rivas respectively, the SEREMIS of Agriculture and of the Environment Francisco Lagos and Mario Delannays respectively, and others.
The on-site work began via germ plasm collection of seeds that will be stored and grown at the Carlos Douglas greenhouse that is part of the CMPC Company in order to reforest throughout 2022 with new plants grown from the same genetic line. This year work will continue to reforest over three hectares, to build firebreaks and - one of the most important aspects of this project - environmental education and fire prevention with the local communities.
Governor Julio Anativia states that all of these activities and strategic alliances that lead to the restoration of the Nonguén National Reserve are tremendously positive. "We're talking about a huge step being taken by CONAF along with Reforestemos and CMPC to solidify initiatives that lead to the eco-system restoration of Nonguén, given its next incarnation as a National Park. Another notable aspect of this alliance is that it not only aims to recuperate and restore environments damaged by forest fires, it also seeks to reinforce and encourage environmental education and preventing fires in civil society by addressing the source of the problem," he stated.
"We are very happy and proud of having taken this historic Step for the Foundation with a project that encompasses all necessary aspects for working on restoring and protecting a place of such importance like the Nonguén National Reserve. We will carry out a 360-degree plan that includes clearing the terrain, firebreaks, germ plasm collection, plant nurseries, reforestation, environmental education, community work and fire prevention," said Suzanne Wylie, Executive Director of Fundación Reforestemos.
Wylie added, "This reaffirms our commitment to environmental protection through an opportunity wherein the synergies produced through public and private sector collaboration help us fulfill our mission as a foundation. This work is urgent and indispensable. Protecting the forests, the lungs of our planet, is most certainly everyone's responsibility."
The forest fire prevention plan will be done over the long term, spanning a series of initiatives with the aim of preventing threats that would irreversibly destroy the ecosystem.
"The Nonguén National Reserve, future national park, is the main green lung of greater Concepción, which is both its ecological value and the reason for protecting it. This agreement will help us restore the area in such a way as to recreate the environment that had been present to some extent. This will include gradually reestablishing the species that are adapted to high light conditions that will protect the soil in short order. The next step will be to enrich the area with more species that have greater ecological demands. In this manner the forest that was lost in the fire will return," said CONAF Regional Director Francisco Pozo.
This project is part of an agreement signed in 2017 by CMPC and Fundación Reforestemos, launching a collaborative alliance. It was kicked off when the company provided the Foundation with 500,000 native species to help reforest and recover areas of great ecological value over a five-year period. Fire prevention took on a leading role during the last year within the initiatives lead by this alliance, committing to concrete assistance on projects that promote education and training around fire prevention as well as projects related to building infrastructure and outfitting forest fire-fighting teams.
According to the Assistant Manager for Public Affairs of CMPC South Augusto Robert, "Fires are a huge threat to native forests in our country. This is why one of the primary missions we have is to help with fire prevention. We have worked throughout the year on educational campaigns along with the community as well as preventive silviculture. This project at the Nonguén National Reserve is along those lines, but it also has another very important aspect of reforestation and native plant preservation. In order for this to be effective, it is essential that we all work to protect our forest, which is so important for the ecosystem."