Dedicated to the conservation of temperate rainforests of Chile and conceived as an experimental outdoor laboratory for multidisciplinary research, where we explore nature stewardship strategies and human-nature relations. Over the past fourteen years working in this privately protected area, we have developed projects and fostered initiatives to contribute with ways to help understand, care for and protect the natural and cultural heritage of Chile.
Located in the Andean Araucania, this privately protected area (PPA)* managed by Fundación Mar Adentro was formed in 2006 with the aim of protecting ecosystems that have a high territorial anthropic pressure, vulnerable and susceptible to the environmental forces of climate change and with a high ecosystem value such as araucaria forests. In this way, we carry out a territorial management plan and interdisciplinary research program to promote a watershed conservation approach.
Bosque Pehuén was conceived as an outdoor laboratory for research, with the aim of generating multidisciplinary and innovative conservation and thought-process models that bring together scientific and artistic research,a s well and educational and environmental awareness activities.
Pehuén Forest covers 882 hectares of natural environments representative of the ecoregion of temperate rainforests of South America. Located adjacent to the Villarrica National Park in the Andean pre-mountain range of the Araucanía region, an area of Chile that concentrates the greatest biodiversity and endemism of the country, yet has been one of the most transformed areas and with the lowest level of representativity in protected areas.
It is a basin that protects grasslands, old-growth forests, thickets, secondary forests and riparian environments. It is also a very important reserve for native fauna such as pumas, foxes, woodpeckers and a diverse array of birds, as well as for very old and unique endangered species such as: the araucaria (Araucaria araucana), Darwin’s frog (Rhinoderma darwinii) and the little mountain monkey (Dromiciops gliroides).
Based on research programs carried out in Bosque Pehuén, the territory has been thoroughly studied. In 2012, an Environmental Impact Statement was made and in 2014 the Environmental Qualification Resolution for the project was obtained. Currently, this PPA is part of the Así Conserva Chile network, the Association of Conservation Initiatives in Private Areas and of Indigenous Peoples in Chile.
It should be noted that this forest was partially exploited in the past, which allows us to observe and study its regeneration capacity to contribute knowledge for other potentially endangered and altered environments. This forest has a large number of old-growth trees, some up to 700 years old, which facilitates the study and relevance of biological legacies.
Since 2006 numerous scientific studies have been conducted, especially related to the flora and fauna of tree canopies, as well as artistic research on human-nature relations and care of nature through our multidisciplinary research program: Bosque Pehuén Residencies.
* IUCN defines protected areas as “clearly defined geographical spaces, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.” (Dudley 2008)