Native forest loss in the Chilean biodiversity hotspot: revealing the evidence

Abstract

The understanding of the spatial and temporal patterns in land use and land cover (LULC) change is a key issue for conservation efforts. In the Chilean hotspot, different studies have attempted to understand variations of LULC change. Nevertheless, a broader understanding of common patterns and variability of LULC over the entire range of the hotspot is lacking. We performed a complete review of the different studies reporting LULC changes and performed a joint analysis of their results using an integrated comprehensive approach. We related the variation of LULC change to latitude, time period and vascular plant richness using generalized linear models. Overall, there were nine studies, which covered 36.5 % of the study area, and reported the loss of 19 % of native forest (782,120 ha) between 1973 and 2011. The highest net forest loss was observed in the 1970–1990 period. This decreased in the 1990–2000 period and rose again in the 2000–2010 period. This result reveals a continuous forest loss in the last 40 years. Conversion of native forest to shrublands is the most important contributor to net native forest loss, accounting for 45 % of the loss. However, in the area of greatest species richness native forests are mainly converted to exotic tree plantations. Chilean forestry model has proved successful in expanding exotic tree plantation, but so far it has not been compatible with native forest conservation and restoration. It is imperative to design a new forestry policy to assure the conservation of one of the most unique biodiversity hotspots worldwide.

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Acknowledgments

Alejandro Miranda thanks to CONICYT/Doctoral National Program/21140409, Chile. This research was supported by funding from the FONDECYT project 1141294, FONDEF Idea CA13I10276 and Dirección de Investigación of Universidad de La Frontera, Chile. A. Lara and ME González thank CONICYT/FONDAP/15110009. L. Cayuela was supported by project REMEDINAL-2 (Comunidad de Madrid S2009/AMB-178).

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Miranda, A., Altamirano, A., Cayuela, L. et al. Native forest loss in the Chilean biodiversity hotspot: revealing the evidence. Reg Environ Change 17, 285–297 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-016-1010-7

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Keywords

  • Land use and land cover change
  • Remote sensing
  • Temperate forest
  • Deforestation
  • Exotic tree plantation