Chile is one of the first documented nations to undergo a forest transition dominated by tree farm expansion. Scenario modelling can inform the possible outcomes of forest conservation policies, especially when the scenarios are rooted in the political dynamics that shaped the current legislation. In Chile, tree farms of non-native Radiata Pine and Eucalyptus provide a fast return on investment. Today, fast-growing plantations compete for land area with forest conservation, putting the unique bundle of ecosystem services provided by the latter at risk. Based on a previous political analysis, we propose scenarios projected to 2030 to compare a business-as-usual scenario with A) a conservation scenario based on strict land use restrictions B) an optimistic conservation scenario; C) an unrestricted industrial land use scenario; and D) a restricted industrial land use scenario. The scenarios differ in terms of the implemented policy instruments and the land area required for each land use. We compared these scenarios in terms of carbon stock, control of erosion and wood production, all of which are relevant in the current Chilean political debate. A conservation scenario (A), that combines incentives and restrictions, would imply the largest increase in native forest and regulation services, namely carbon stock and erosion control. In contrast, an unrestricted industrial land use scenario (C) leads to the worst outcomes in terms of erosion compared to a business-as-usual scenario. This study seeks to link political and economic processes underpinning land use change to environmental outcomes, while contributing to the larger discussion on forest policy, forest transitions and environmental outcomes.
- Forest transitions
- Tree farms