Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 647-662

First online:

Indigenous Knowledge and Management of Araucaria Araucana Forest in the Chilean Andes: Implications for Native Forest Conservation

  • Thora Martina HerrmannAffiliated withDépartement de Géographie, Université de Montréal Email author 

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Southern Chile experienced serious deforestation during the past century and it is projected that by the year 2025 Chile will be devoid of native forests. One of the most important endemic tree species of the country and at the same time one of the most endangered ones is Araucaria araucana (Mol.) C. Koch, the monkey-puzzle tree. It grows in the Andes Mountains, homeland of the indigenous Mapuche Pewenche people who depend on this tree. This paper is based on participatory field research with a Mapuche Pewenche community in the southern Chilean Andes on their ecological knowledge, values, use and management of the Araucaria araucana forest. It attempts to reveal how indigenous people and their knowledge contribute to the sustainable management of these forests. The paper (1) illustrates the complexity of indigenous ecological knowledge of Araucaria araucana and its efficacy in native forest management, (2) explores the link between the conservation and use of biodiversity by the indigenous people, and (3) provides answers relevant to native forest management and conservation strategies ex-situ and in-situ incorporating indigenous and scientific knowledge, thus providing a contribution towards integrated natural resource management.

Key words

Araucaria araucana Chile Indigenous ecological knowledge Mapuche Pewenche people Sustainable forest management