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Using forest historical information to target landscape ecological restoration in Southwestern Patagonia

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Abstract

Ecotonal zones between eastern semi-arid steppes and Nothofagus spp. forests in western Patagonia are the result of broad ecosystem changes, which have intensified in the last 140 years. Our objectives were to determine historical changes in land use, land cover, and forces driving such changes in Nothofagus ecosystems in the Río Verde district in southern Chile, to support future management recommendations. This interdisciplinary study used historical records including scientific and military expeditions, Landsat imagery, and other archival sources. Forest cover changed radically between the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, from subsistence use by indigenous peoples, to forestry and livestock industries. The main driving forces of landscape change have been anthropogenic forest fires, logging, exotic pasture establishment, and mining. Future perspectives suggest that conserving the cultural values and natural resources of this region will depend on ecologically sound landscape planning, reversing forest fragmentation, restoring riparian corridors, and preserving indigenous archaeological sites.

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Acknowledgements

We wish to acknowledge the financial support of CORFO I + D (SC-0065), Conicyt PIA BASAL FB0002, Marie Skodowska-Curie Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) Program (SuFoRun #691149 Project) and the NASA-MSU Professional Enhancement Award. We also thank the material and logistic support of Mina Invierno and The Río Verde Municipality. A special acknowledgement to the knowledge and reflections of Juan Gastó, Patricio Valenzuela, Marcelo Miranda, Trinidad Cerda, Anna-Maria Rautio, Alfredo Prieto, Consuelo Gálvez, David Morales, Ángela Hernández, Iván Arriagada (ENAP), Robert Petitpas, Cristián Alarcón, Paola Langer and Matthias Bürgi. To Dinah McLeay, Peter Maclean, Margarita Yutronic, Smiljan Lozic, Geraldine Fernández, Braulio Ojeda, Sergio Santelices, Gerald Friedlich, Milan Martinic and Victor Gallegos, for their kind welcome in the field and the information they provided about their land.

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Zegers, G., Arellano, E. & Östlund, L. Using forest historical information to target landscape ecological restoration in Southwestern Patagonia. Ambio 49, 986–999 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-019-01232-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-019-01232-8

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