Government officials this week announced a plan to reforest 20 percent of Santiago’s Parque Metropolitano (“Metropolitan Park”) during the next three years, with 100,000 native species trees.
It will be the largest downtown reforestation effort in the past 30 years.
The 1784 acre (722 ha) Parque Metropolitano is built alongside the Cerro San Cristóbal hill and provides a range of attractions – including a breathtaking view of the city, a zoo, and a mountain-side escalator – in addition to the serenity that comes with large tracts of forested land folded into the heart of the nation’s capital.
The reforestation effort will make the park more user-friendly and beautiful, help reduce hillside erosion and capture CO2 gases.
It will focus on the “backside” or northwest part of the park, which includes 360 acres (146 ha) that normally receives much less rainfall than the rest of the park – and less attention.
When viewed from the center or eastern parts of the Metropolitan area, such as the prosperous neighborhoods of Providencia and Las Condes, the hillside park provides a lush backdrop to the bustling city.
However when viewed from the north and west backside, from areas Huechuraba, Recoleta and Conchalí, it is markedly less green.
“There are lots of patches in this part of the park that have never been forested,” said park director Mauricio Fabry. “It’s been kind of like the ‘backyard’ of our park for many, many years.”
But that’s set to change with the introduction of native tree species selected including quillayes, peumos, maitenes and algarrobos. These trees are especially hardy and resistant to the sun, and need less rainfall than other native tree species.
Some of the trees will be planted in areas that currently have no vegetation, while others will be used to make other areas more densely forested.
“With this effort we’ll be paying back an historic debt the park has with the neighboring barrios of Huechuraba, Recoleta and Conchalí,” Fabry said.