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Salvage Logging by Indigenous People in a Chilean Conifer Forest

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Salvage logging has been described as a controversial environmental practice in developed countries, but in developing countries this conflict has not been evaluated. We describe salvage logging of Fitzroya cupressoides, an endemic conifer of the South American temperate forests. In Chile, the Huilliche—an ethnical group—extract deadwood of Fitzroya to produce sawn timber and shingles. The objectives of this study were (i) to estimate the volume of deadwood that is removed by salvage logging performed by Huilliches and (ii) to evaluate the effects of this local activity on the regeneration of Fitzroya, especially regarding the amount of waste wood left behind. In 54 (10×10 m) plots we measured length, height and dbh of logs, snags, and stumps. We quantified the regeneration of Fitzroya by counting all individuals with heights below 2 m. Each plot was characterized by its altitude, slope, aspect, microtopography, canopy cover, and quantity of waste wood covering the forest soil. We found a total of 279.51 m3 of deadwood of which 53.9% was rotten and 3.6% was used to make sawn timber and shingles. Contrary to expected, the number of seedlings (1–50 cm) was positively related to waste wood. Juvenile's density (1–200 cm) was mainly explained by altitude, microtopography, and the interaction of these variables with slope. We concluded that salvage logging by Huilliches is an activity that removes a minimum of the ecosystem biomass. It apparently has no negative effects on the regeneration of Fitzroya, which is explained mainly by biotic and some abiotic factors, especially altitude.

Keywords: Fitzroya cupressoides; burned forests; cubication; deadwood; ethnoecology; southern temperate forests

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5849/forsci.12-079

Affiliations: 1: Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad (IEB), Instituto de Conservación Biodiversidad y Territorio, Facultad de Ciencias Forestales y Recursos Naturales, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile. 2: Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad-Chile. 3: Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Ecología y Biodiversidad (CASEB)-Chile. 4: Departamento de Ecología, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

Appeared or available online: January 2, 2014

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