Research meetings in La Araucanía addressed biodiversity conservation in the context of global change

In the month of October, the conservation area of our foundation participated in the XIII Biodiversity seminar in La Araucanía, whose theme was “Biodiversity conservation in the context of a climate emergency”; and the 16th Conference on ecology and management of alien plant invasions (EMAPI). Both instances, one local and the other international, raised the need to face the challenges imposed by the crisis of biodiversity loss in an innovative, inclusive and transdisciplinary way.

Two relevant meetings on biodiversity conservation were held in October in La Araucanía, one of a regional nature and the other international. In the first (XIII Biodiversity Seminar) our manager of conservation projects at Bosque Pehuén, biologist Sebastián Carrasco, spoke about the work carried out by the foundation in nature conservation with a transdisciplinary perspective that crosses art, science and education, in a panel that addressed various private conservation initiatives. 

In the seminar organized by various institutions – including the Regional Ministerial Secretariat of the Environment of La Araucanía, the Catholic University of Temuco, the National Forestry Corporation, the University of La Frontera and the UC Villarrica campus – Carrasco referred to the strategies of conservation that are carried out in Bosque Pehuén, an area under private protection managed by our foundation and an open-air laboratory for the development of research, learning and artistic creation. “I explained the way in which, through the protection of the forests, we contribute to the decontamination of Lake Villarrica from this territory, that is, how we take care of the waters that reach this body of water,” exemplified the team member of FMA conservation.

Some topics addressed during the first day, he also explained, were the various threats that impact biodiversity, such as avian flu, invasive exotic species such as minks, and forest fires, among others. At the same time, other panelists addressed the development of sustainable practices such as water recirculation in fish farms and wetland management in the region. Then, on the second day of the meeting, there were discussions mainly about conservation in mountain ecosystems, added Carrasco, who referred to the relevance of the networks generated in the Araucaria Biosphere Reserve’s conservation areas, a global initiative managed by Conaf in Chile and which is essential to strengthen local relationships for nature conservation.

“Bosque Pehuén is part of a territory where state protection initiatives – such as the Villarrica National Park – and various areas under private protection converge. With this perspective, Bosque Pehuen is contributing to expanding the protection of natural ecosystems beyond the core protected areas,” he expressed about the points addressed in his presentation. Likewise, he added that the focus of his presentation not only sought to show the context of our area under protection, but also to propose a kind of FMA imprint for conservation that is nourished by various disciplines, marking an innovative precedent in the crossing of art and science for the care of nature within protected areas.

 

Inventory of invasive plants in Bosque Pehuén

The 16th Conference on ecology and management of alien plant invasions (EMAPI), Carrasco explained, is a relevant scientific meeting that is held every two years. On this occasion, it was held in Pucón and the ecology and management of invasive exotic plants was discussed, analyzing various research and proposals on the subject.

In the instance, Sebastián Carrasco sought to position, through the exhibition of an academic poster, the conservation work carried out in Bosque Pehuén, as well as to publicize the various species of invasive plants present in the area and that are the reflection of anthropogenic activities developed in the past such as wood extraction, livestock farming and the occurrence of fires. “Today we are promoting a conservation project based on science, considering degraded areas as a result of past activities for the design of conservation strategies today,” he said.

The poster presented at the conference summarized the role of invasive plants as one of the greatest threats to the conservation of biodiversity, human well-being, and ecological processes worldwide (according to the latest IPBES 2023 report). In this context, Bosque Pehuén was introduced as a territory for the protection of ecosystems with high territorial impact, as this space is home to a great biodiversity of high ecosystemic value.

“We found more than 20 invasive species, with a higher abundance in areas characterized by past interventions in the forest,” dominating invasive plant species such as wild rose, pine, and blackberry, indicated Carrasco, who delved into the current state of the conservation area on the subject: “We are in a stage of designing conservation actions to control the presence of these species, such as cutting shrubs, replacing pines with native species as ornamentation, that is, mainly early detection measures and prevention.”

Among the projections of this research, “conservation strategies for the prevention of the introduction of new exotic species were proposed; continuous mapping and application of monitoring and research systems according to the IPBES recommendations (2023); integrated control strategies; technological innovations such as the use of the S.M.A.R.T. monitoring and patrolling software; restoration based on traits and climate; inter-institutional coordination; as well as education and citizen awareness.”

“Our findings will allow decisions to be made for conservation and the design of socio-ecological restoration projects in the study area,” was also highlighted in the publication presented at EMAPI, a meeting that brought together more than 100 researchers from 30 countries.