Chile is a tri-continental country with territory in South America, Antarctic, and Oceania, with borders with Peru to the north, Argentina and Bolivia to the east, the South Pole to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.  It is a long, narrow country with a length of 4300 km and an average width of 170 km.  Administratively, it is divided into 15 regions, and had a population in 2012 of approximately 17.4 million habitants.

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Last updated: September 2014

Forest Management

In December 2007, the Chilean government passed a forest law which had been 15 years in the making. The law aims to preserve the country’s remaining forests and to promote sustainable use of the national forest resources. A quarter of Chile’s forests are now protected.  Although Greenpeace denounced a lack of action on the part of the National Forestry Service to protect the country’s alerce trees against illegal felling in 2005 (Greenpeace 2005), illegal logging in Chile has received little attention from the media and from NGOs in recent years.

Both the "FSC Chile Standard for Certification of Native Forests” and the “FSC Chile Standard for Certification of Plantation Forests” were approved in May 2010 and came into effect in September 2010. Since then, over 2,345,000 ha have been FSC certified, with 23 certificates awarded (up to Sept 2014), with almost 1.8 million ha being certified in the last couple of years.  CERTFOR, the Chilean Forest Certification Corporation endorsed by PEFC, has certified 1.9 million ha.

Chile has a plantation area of about 2.2 million hectares, composed mainly of Pinus radiata and Eucalyptus species. These plantations are privately owned, and most of the timber is located in the central-southern part of the country.  All forests are managed according to Forest Management Plans approved by the state forestry authority.  The forest areas of high conservation value and the native wildlife are protected by the State.


According to the Corruption Perception Index 2013 from Transparency International, which measures perceived levels of public sector corruption in countries around the world using a score of 0-100 (where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is completely clean) Chile is ranked 22nd out of 177 countries assessed. It has scored a corruption index of 71, meaning it has a perception of relatively low corruption.  The levels of perception of corruption has stayed more or less the same from 2012 where Chile was ranked 20th out of 174 countries with a corruption index of 72.

Transparency International's country profile on Chile

Transparency International's 2013 Corruption Index interactive map

The World Bank compiles a set of Worldwide Governance Indicators for all world economies. This country data report on Chile can be found in the full data set.

Laws and Regulations

Forestry Laws

The first piece of conservation-oriented forest legislation, the Decree Law 4,363 of 1931, better known as the 1931 Forest Law, had a mandate to protect forests.  It was developed to halt destructive processes affecting forests, giving the President the power to establish national parks and reserves.  By 1965, 26 national parks had been created, with an area of ​​11.5 million hectares. Some 19% of Chile’s land area is now protected by the state under the extensive Sistema Nacional de Areas Silvestres Protegidas - SNASPE (National Protected Wildlife Areas System), which is made up of 32 national parks, 38 national reserves and 15 natural monuments.

Chilean forestry laws can be found in the online library of the Forestry Institute, INFOR, which is part of the Ministry of Environment, Chile.  The library can be found at here.

Chile’s 2005 Political Constitution guarantees all individuals “the right to live in a pollution–free environment” and obliges the State “to ensure that this right is not affected and to safeguard the preservation of nature. The law may establish specific restrictions to exercise of certain rights and liberties in order to protect the environment” (Section 19, number 8). 

A new Forestry Development Act is currently in development (August 2014), which will support small and medium forest land owners by paying them a bonus to establish plantations.  Steps to work with indigenous communities are also being encouraged through the Act, including incorporating measures such as an Intercultural Management Plan to bring together all members of the community to develop a plan, thus taking into account different land uses. The current Law Project subsidizes the development of this plan.

Rules and regulations from CONAF, the National Forestry Corporation, can be found on their website.

The Chilean Law of Recuperation of Native Forest and Forestal Promotion (Ley de Recuperación del Bosque Nativo y Fomento Forestal), most often referred as the Native Forest Law (Ley de Bosque Nativo), regulates the use of native forests and promotes sustainable forest management. It took 15 years to be developed, finally being approved by parliament in 2007.  

With the development of the Native Forest Law, the government formed an ad hoc commission to negotiate between key actors (including industry and non-governmental organizations), to try and obtain consensus on the future of native forests. The proposal that emerged allowed a degree of forest conversion (25% of the areas with less than 45o slopes), offered incentives for its management (which the 1931 Forest Law did not do) and provided support for small- to medium-sized owners (addressing social equity, unlike Decree Law 701).

Decree Law 701 (hereinafter DL 701) is a part of the environmental legislation that gives CONAF and its officials express powers in law enforcement, such as:

  1. the approval, objection or rejection of management plans (article 10); and
  2. supervision of compliance with approved management plans and with reforestation duties established in articles 22 and 21 sub (2) of DL 701 (article 31).

Decree Law DL701 established forestry incentives including bonuses for afforestation or dune stabilization in soils suitability for forestry, and tax bonuses and benefits of  administration activities regarding management of planted land suitability for forestry.

DL701 has 4 regulations that supplement the Act:

  1. Supreme Decree No. 193 of 1998, the Ministry of Agriculture. General Regulations of Decree Law No. 701 of 1974.
  2. Supreme Decree No. 192 of 1998, the Ministry of Agriculture. Regulations for Payment of Bonuses Forest.
  3. Supreme Decree No. 1,341, of 1998, the Ministry of Finance. Regulation establishing accounting standards applicable to taxpayers who forestry activities in accordance with Decree Law No. 701 of 1974 on Forestry Development.
  4. Supreme Decree No. 259 of 1980, the Ministry of Agriculture. Technical Regulation Law Decree No. 701 of 1974.

DL 701 contains environmental provisions,  enforcement obligations and definitions, including those referred to management plans, such as: 

Article 2 of DL 701. Management Plan: “Instrument that, in compliance with the requirements established by this piece of legislation, regulates the rational use and exploitation of renewable natural resources on certain lands, with the objective of obtaining a maximum benefit from these resources, while at the same time ensuring their preservation, conservation, improvement and growth, as well as that of their ecosystem”. 

Art. 2 DL 701. Forest: A place populated with vegetal formations –with the predomination of trees– that occupy an area of at least 5,000 m2, with a minimum width of 40 meters, and with a treetop coverage of over 10% of the total area in arid and semi-arid conditions and 25% in more favorable conditions.

Art. 2 DL 701. Reforestation: The action of repopulating with tree or shrub species, through sowing, planting or management of natural regeneration a piece of land that was previously covered with forest or that has been subject to extractive exploitation after October 28, 1974.  

Art. 2 DL 701. Land Preferably Suitable for Forestry: All the land that because of climate and soil conditions should not be permanently plowed, whether or not covered by vegetation, excluding the land that can be used in agriculture, fruitgrowing and intensive cattle raising. 

Decree Law DL 701 1974 Forest Act was amended in 1998 by Law 19,561.  Its aim is to encourage afforestation in degraded areas, especially by small forest owners, to protect fragile and degraded soils and encourage soil remediation practices.  This legal amendment incorporated two types of incentives:

  1. Smallholders bonus for afforestation and management preferably planted in soils of forest character;
  2. Bonus for afforestation, land reclamation and / or dune stabilization in fragile soils, Ñadis or desertification process in degraded or degraded soils with slopes greater than 100%.

Since 31st December 2012, the incentive system term has expired (Article 12 of Decree Law No. 701 of 1974), and afforestation and other activities carried out from 1 January 2013 are not subject to fiscal incentives.   However, the forest bonus scheme resulted in 2,620,486 acres of planted forests (according to CONAF, 2014).

Currently, the system of protected areas by the State (SNASPE) includes 32 National Parks, 48 ​​National Reserves and 15  Natural Monuments covering about 14.3 million hectares. SNASPE is regulated by Law 18,362 of 1984 and is administered by the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF). This system is composed of three types of territories:

National Parks : Large areas with unique environments and habitats and representative of national biodiversity, which have remained virtually unchanged by human action and possess the ability to be self-perpetuating. Its species of plant and wildlife also have great importance and interest for science and education. The purpose of the national parks are to preserve these environments and are compatible with educational, research and recreational activities.

National Reserves : Tend to be smaller than national parks, where conservation and care is necessary because of the danger that this unique environment may suffer irreparable changes and damage the environment and welfare of the community.

Natural Monuments : narrow and specific areas around a geographic place of great archaeological, cultural or natural importance surface. They are characterized by the presence of unique geological or native species of flora and fauna sites.  Law 17,288 of 1970 on National Monuments is focused on the preservation and enjoyment of the monumental character of natural areas, including A. araucana forests. 

Law No. 19,300 enacted in 1994, the General Environmental Framework (LBGMA) is a framework for more than 700 existing regulations.  It regulates the right to live in a pollution–free environment, the protection of the environment, the preservation of nature, and the conservation of the environmental heritage. In 2010, with the amendment introduced by Law 20417, the Ministry and the Superintendence of the Environment, the Council of Ministers on Sustainability, the Environmental Assessment Service, and the National System of Information on Environmental Monitoring were created.

Law 20,283 on Native Forest Recovery and Forestry Development - provides awards to various stakeholders including small forest owners to incentivise them to grow native trees.  It aims to give protection, encourage recovery and improve native forests in order to ensure forest sustainability. 

Law 20,488 on Approved Operators - requirements and obligations applicable to persons who join the register of Forest Operators, held by the National Forestry Corporation. 

Law 18, 348, 1984 - creation of the National Forestry Protection Corporation and Protection of Renewable Natural Resource (CONAF).  CONAF's functions and responsibilities (taken from Article 4 of Act 18348) include the following:

  1. Implement programme management, conservation and protection of renewable natural resources on private lands, tax or state agencies;
  2. Encourage the establishment of forests and ensure the proper management and use of those established by direct or indirect action of the Corporation and those whose administration is appropriate, ensuring the efficient marketing of products obtained;
  3. To perform the functions and exercise powers regarding conservation, protection and enhancement of renewable natural resources, including tuition, management and development of forest reserves, national parks, state forests and other units in the State Forest Estate.   It will also implement, monitor and enforce laws and regulations on the protection of soil and water resources, wildlife and flora; planting and harvesting of forest tree and shrub species; prevention, control and fighting forest fires, and use of fire in rural land.

Processing/Manufacturing Laws

Article 17, Act 18348 states that "If the offense consists of the violation of the laws and regulations governing the exploitation of forests, the penalty shall be a fine equal to twice the market value of the products cut or exploited, whatever their condition or degree operating or processing. Items found in the possession of the alleged offender be retained and deposited in the place with the Executive Director of the Corporation until the issuance of the final judgment. If the sentence is a conviction, such products shall be confiscated in favor of the Corporation. If products from exploitation have been alienated by the offender, he shall be liable to a penalty equal to three times its market value".

Transport Laws

All forest products must have a document certifying the origin of the wood - this may be verified by CONAF during transportation of the products. 

Decree no. 93, 2008 was approved to make some amendments to general rules of Laws 20,283 on Forest Recovery Native and Forestry Promotion (Recuperación del Bosque Nativo y Fomento Forestal).

Article 34: To protect the transport of primary products from isolated native trees not part of a forest, an applicant must formally apply to the Corporation, which may take any action it deems relevant to verify the accuracy of the background information provided in the application. The concerned shall submit a certificate indicating the land area of the existing property together with the application in question (or an affidavit).

In the case of transport of primary products, the transport volume must not exceed the already-established standing volume of trees to be cut which has been authorised by the Corporation. 

Tax Laws

The report from the State of the World's Forests, 2014 indicated that "although Chile doesn’t seem to have established or significantly amended tax mechanisms as a way of stimulating forest investment, it has introduced water fees that capitalize funds used for forestry activities". 

Article 17 of Act 18,348 (the law which saw the creation of CONAF, the National Forestry Protection Corporation and Protection of Renewable Natural Resources) states that "fines applied under the provisions of this article shall be a fiscal benefit" (Las multas que se apliquen en virtud de lo dispuesto en el presente artículo serán de beneficio fiscal).   This means that any violations on the implementation, monitoring and enforcement of laws and regulations on the protection of soil and water resources, wildlife and flora; planting and harvesting of forest tree and shrub species; prevention, control and fighting forest fires, and use of fire in rural land that results in fines would benefit CONAF financially. 

Trade Laws

Chile has two laws that are fundamental in regulating foreign investment:

  • The Foreign Investment Statute, or Decree Law 600.
  • Article 47 of the Constitutional Organic Law of the Central Bank, also known as Chapter XIV of the Compendium of International Exchange Regulations.

Comité de Inversiones Extranjeras: The Committee of Foreign Investments approves and controls the entrance of foreign capital under the terms and conditions established in Decree Law Nº 600. Its main objectives are the promotion of foreign investment opportunities, to provide legal and financial assistance to foreign investors and receive and give equal treatment to all investment applications.

Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero (SAG). Agriculture and Livestock Service: Oversees compliance with legal requirements for seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, flora and fauna and sanitary detection and control. It has particular interest in controlling the sanitary requirements of both natural imported and exported products.

CITES Agreement Information

CITES is an international agreement among governments whose purpose is to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plant species does not threaten the survival of these species. 180 countries (September 2014) have agreed to be bound by CITES, which is a binding legal agreement. It is up to each Party to CITES to draft its own domestic legislation in order to comply with its CITES obligations. Chile acceded to the Convention in 1975.  

Despite a Chilean logging ban from 1976 and international legal protection since 1973 (when Fitzroya was included under Appendix I of CITES), Fitzroya cupressoides timber continued to be exploited. Between 1977-1996 the exports of Alerce timber reached an average of US $865,000 (Díaz et al. 1997). Only trees that had died prior to 1976 -  when Fitzroya cupressoides forests were declared Chilean National Monuments and the cutting of live trees was prohibited, were permitted to be logged.  However, determining the date of death can be difficult and there have been many instances of fires being deliberately set in forests in the southern Chile in order to produce more dead timber for harvesting (Lara et al. 2003, Wolodarsky and Lara 2005).

A. araucana is commonly used for lumber, flooring, paper pulp and ship-masts (Delmastro and Donoso 1980). Due to its listing on Appendix I of CITES there is no legal international trade in the timber, with only local use in Argentina and Chile. The seeds are very rich in carbohydrates and proteins and were once an essential part of the diet of the indigenous people; today, the seeds are still eaten by local inhabitants. It is also considered highly as an ornamental tree in Europe (in particular in Great Britain) and in parts of North America.  

Owing to timber cutting, Pilgerodendron cypress forests have been dramatically degraded and destroyed, particularly in Chile's XI Region. Large-scale destruction of the forest during colonial times and the widespread opening up of the lowland area have led to the extinction of Pilgerodendron uviferum from much of its original distribution. Illegal harvesting is still occurring in many forests. Regeneration has been prevented by extensive fire setting and grazing, so contributing to Pilgerodendron's decline. The most northern populations are severely fragmented and isolated, mainly as the result of conversion of native forest to industrial plantations.

More resources:

full contact list for official national CITES authorities, including Management Authorities competent to grant permits.

IUCN Red List: Information on Fitzroya cupressoides

Information on the use of Araucaria araucana

IUCN Red List: Information on Araucaria araucana

IUCN Red List: Information on Pilgerodendron uviferum

Forest Resources

Chile’s forestry resources can be divided into two:

  1. Natural forests (13.8 million hectares) composed principally of endemic species which are concentrated in mountainous regions, especially in the Andes Mountains, at latitudes above 39°S and 
  2. A smaller area of plantations of non-native species (2.4 million hectares), established in central-southern Chile, between 34º and 41°S.  The natural forests have been classified in 12 forest types according to the predominant species and their geographic location.  These include palm forests, Araucaria forests, Roble-Hualo forests and Schlerophyllus forests.  More information can be found here.

Twenty-two percent of Chile is covered by forests (16,231,000 ha), 27% of which are primary forests. The country has experienced a falling rate of deforestation over the past twenty years, and has had a positive annual change rate in the extent of the forest areas, which between 2005 and 2010 was at an annual average of 0.23%. However, there was still a small decrease of -0.22% annual change rate for primary forests in the same time period. This is due in part to increasingly rapid development of forest plantations, with the total plantation area growing from 1.7 million hectares in 1990 to 2.4 million in 2010, which equates to 15% of the forest area. Only a quarter of Chile’s forest areas are owned by the state; the majority are privately owned.  Forty-six percent of Chile’s forest areas are production forest, with 29% having the primary designated function of protection of soil and water.

The area of permanent forest estate in 2010 was 13,643,000 ha (84%), with just 3,992 ha of forests within protected areas (25%). Only 2,000 ha of forests have management plans. Sixty-three percent of all growing stock in forests and other wooded lands are a commercial species. 

Forest Products

Production Status

According to the 2014 State of the World's Forests report, there were 85,000 employed in the formal forest sector in 2011 - 1% of the total labour force - spread across roundwood production (42,000), wood processing (27,000) and pulp and paper (16,000).  The informal forest sector increases the number employed in the formal and informal sector to 841,000, which corresponds to over 10% of the total labour force, indicating a considerable number (over 750,000) of the 17.4 million population are involved in the informal forestry sector. 

The same report states that the Chilean forest sector's formal contribution to GDP is 3.3%, or US$7,596million of GDP.  Of this, it is pulp and paper that contributes over 53% of the total for the forest sector, with wood processing contributing 27%, and roundwood production almost 20%.  

With respect to foreign trade, the Chilean forestry sector in 2012 exported $ 5.389 billion in goods, 8.8% lower than 2011.  Chile exported to 117 countries in 2012, of which the top five account for 51.7% of total exports.  China has been the largest trading partner of forest products for Chile since 2008, with 19.2% of total forest products in 2012, the EU importing 11.1%, Japan 9.6%, the Netherlands 6.0% and South Korea 5.8%. 

INFOR publish a regular bulletin on Chilean Forestry Exports

In the first semester of 2014, almost $ 3 billion of forest products was exported, an increase of 9.6% over the amount recorded in the same period of 2013. Chemical pulp remains the main item exported, at 48.9% of the total products exported, totalling $ 1.463 billion. Additionally, lumber, the second largest export sector, grew 34.6% to $ 339 million. 

Products that increased in export volume included blanks of radiata pine (45% increase), MDP melamine (37.4%), radiata sawn pine boards (34.7%), radiata pine bleached pulp (18, .7 %), edge glued boards of radiata pine (17.6%), stucco (17%) multilayer cardboard, wood planed radiata pine (12%), and solid moldings radiata pine (11%). At the other end, products with falls in exports were the newsprint (-51.7%), bark chips of eucalyptus globulus (-9.7%) and radiata pine MDF (-0.5%) moldings.

Sawmilling production reached 7.2 million m3 in 2012, a 5.5% increase from the year before, according to the 2013 Annual Report by INFOR.  Radiata pine spp accounts for 96% of the national production of sawnwood. 

Domestic production has been increasing since 2010, but is still below the 2006 8.7 million m3 volume produced.

The low volume of production of boards and plywood (9.4% of total industry production) in 2012 was primarily due to a fire in January 2012 which completely destroyed a plywood plant at the Nueva Aldea industrial complex, resulting in a reduction in production of 400,000m3 of boards, 27% of the 2011 total.  

During the Unidad Popular coalition government in the early 1970s, there was a massive reforestation effort by the State, creating thousands of jobs. The subsequent military government reoriented the reforestation incentive system, making it more attractive to the private sector. Under the Decree Law 701 (valid until 1994), the costs of the establishment of a plantation were subsidized by up to 75%, there were no property taxes and income taxes were reduced by 50%.

The DL 701 triggered the massive establishment of radiata pine plantations, and to lesser extent plantations with species from the Eucalyptus genus. Thus, it has meant that a large part of the produced wood comes from these plantations and that production is oriented towards foreign markets.  This is shown in the statistics presented in the 2013 Annual Report from INFOR on the production of sawn radiata pine and other species in 1000s of m3.  In 1992, there was 2,564,000 m3 of radiata pine, with 454,000m3 other species.  This had increased to 6,848,000m3 radiata pine by 2012, an increase of 267%.  Other species, on the other hand, had decreased in the same time period by 69%, down to 311,000m3. 

CONAF, the National Forestry Corporation published national statistics on forests, plantations and forestry development. 

report on the forest plantation area established in 2011, outlined that the total planted in 2011 amounted to 99,910 hectares, of which just over 20% (20,386ha) was afforested and the remaining 80% (79,522 ha) was reforested.  Definitions for afforestation and reforestation can also be found in the report.  

CONAF also publishes forestry management information on a number of topics including:

  • The surface rating of land suitability for forestry, number forest area management plans, reclaimed surface, bonus amounts, among other documents, broken down by year and region (based upon the Decree Law 701 of 1974 on Forestry Development);
  • Information on approved projects amounts, the executing agency and status as well as number of proposed projects and area covered.  The information is broken down by type of ownership, ethnicity, region, and forestry management objective to run activity.  This is all based on the Law 20.283 on Native Forest Recovery and Forestry Development; and
  • Control legislation (complaints of alleged violations and their progress, short detection and control unauthorized compliance management plans) - this information is broken down by number of cases per region. 


Industry Associations

Civil Society Organizations

Government Ministries

  • Ministerio de Agricultura Ministry of Agriculture, which includes the National Forestry Corporation.
  • MMA - Ministerio del Medio Ambiente Ministry of Environment 
  • CONAF The National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) comes under the Ministry of Agriculture, is in charge of managing the national forestry policies. Its main objective is to contribute to the preservation, management and use of the country's forestry resources. It has 2 main functions: (i) Forestry control. It controls the application and compliance of the forest industry with the law, norms and regulations regarding forest management, logging operations and other operational issues, and (ii) Management of the SNASPE, (Sistema Nacional de Areas Silvestres Protegidas) the National System of Protected Wildlife Areas, composed by the National Parks, Forest Reserves, and National Monuments.
  • INFOR - Instituto Forestal The Forest Institute - a Technology Research Institute of the State of Chile, under the Ministry of Agriculture.