An ambitious project to plant 17 million new trees in Chile – one for every citizen – over the next eight years is well underway, with the country’s National Forestry Corporation (Conaf) announcing that the target of two million plants will be reached by the end of the year.
Launched by the national government last year, the Urban Forestation Program is on track to deliver eight million plants by 2013.
The project has been divided into several regional projects that aim to match species with appropriate climates and growing conditions. Areas are being chosen to take part in the project based on the availability of fertile soil and water.
And local communities are responding. With help from local government, neighborhood committees and social organizations throughout the country have applied to adopt the trees, agreeing to provide ongoing care and maintenance.
Around 300,000 plants have already been given to community groups in Chile’s capital and that figure is expected to surpass a million in just two years. For now, the project is primarily focused on the city’s northern zone which has a lower concentration of trees than other areas.
“In the lower-income districts, we are planning to put a tree out the front of every house and we will also give a small, indoor fruit tree to every household,” Conaf’s forestry manager, Aida Baldini, fold La Tercera.
Citrus plants such as lemon, orange and grapefruit trees are being delivered to families in these communities to encourage them to take responsibility for the well-being of the plants.
Most of the larger trees being planted throughout Santiago are native species, such as the maitén, chañar, quillay and luma trees, although some exotic plants have been included in the planting project as well.
In Chile’s north
The majority of the trees that have been delivered to the arid desert regions in the country’s north are species that don’t require much water. But communities in the northern city of Arica have also received 20,000 pomegranate plants, because studies revealed that local citizens would be more likely to care for them.
To deliver more trees for the program, Conaf has embarked on a major initiative to upgrade its 22 nurseries spread throughout the country, which will need to produce a total of five million trees this year alone. Almost 70 percent of the trees that have already been planted were bought from other nurseries because the saplings in the Conaf nurseries were not ready for planting.
A large proportion of the trees being used in the project are coming from Conaf’s Peñuelas nursery in the Valparaíso Region, which has the capacity to produce three million plants annually.