PS 87-142 - CANCELLED - Land use change at south-central Chile: A case study of socioecological systems

Friday, August 12, 2011
Exhibit Hall 3, Austin Convention Center
Daniela I. Manuschevich, Forest and Natural Resources Management, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY and Colin M. Beier, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York, Syracuse, NY
Background/Question/Methods: Social-ecological systems (SES) are complex systems that comprise several different types of human-nature interactions at multiple scales. Among these interactions, ecosystem services represent the SES interactions that link together the functioning of the ecosystem and human well being. Land use and land cover change can strongly influence the quantity, quality and variety of ecosystem services provided in SES. Although decisions about land use are typically made by individuals in a given institutional setting, these decisions can generate unexpected outcomes resulting in undesirable tradeoffs and deficits in the provision of ecosystem services to a much broader population.

 Chile is developing a vigorous forestry sector based on non-native industrial plantations (Monterrey pine and Eucalyptus spp) that is promoting a rapid change in land use. In 1940, less than 100,000 ha of industrial plantations were planted, while today the area planted with these exotic monocultures is greater than 3,000,000 ha. This change in land use has been promoted by several factors, including a government subsidy for establishing plantations, increased security of land tenure and favorable global forest products markets. The original purpose of the subsidy was to encourage private sector to invest in afforestation in order to reduce soil erosion on degraded agricultural and pastoral lands. Currently, the Chilean wood and pulp sector is considered one of the fastest-growing and most competitive in the world. This rapid change has been primarily driven by a small group of landowners, since 52.9 % of the total area of plantation forests in Chile is owned by eight companies; however, its impacts on the provision of ecosystem services has a much broader implications. Some ecosystem services, like timber and, to some degree, soil and carbon sequestration have increased compared with the previous land use; meanwhile other services, such as water provision and regulation, have likely decreased.

Results/Conclusions: Using an integrative SES modeling approach, we are investigating how the policies and socioeconomic drivers of forest plantations in Chile act as drivers of outcomes in ecosystem services and human well-being at multiple scales. If the current rate of land use change continues, how will this affect the resilience of the SES? Will the ecosystem be able to provide a different set of ecosystem services if future social needs and preferences change? In addition to these questions, this study seeks to inform policy-making by providing insights on current and possible future outcomes of land use change in the Chilean landscape.

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