Home > When green production yields poverty: Socioeconomic Effects of Forestry Expansion in Chile

When green production yields poverty: Socioeconomic Effects of Forestry Expansion in Chile


Resumen Paper






Esteban López Ochoa1, Patricio Aroca2 y Leonardo Bonilla3.

1.Universidad Adolfo Ibañez,         esteban.lopez@uai.cl.
2.Universidad Adolfo Ibañez,         patricio.aroca@uai.cl.
3.Universidad Adolfo Ibañez,         leonardobonilla84@gmail.com.



 The forestry sector in Chile is one of the most productive in the region and ranks among the top-10 producers of wood and cellulose in the world. According to (Raga, 2009), Chile “competes with the best yield rates in the region” in spite of only having 0.41 % of the world forests and 1.87 % in Latin American and the Caribbean. Since its change in the mid 70’s towards onward production and exploitation of natural resources (Gwynne, 1993), Chile’s timber production has grown to be one of the main economic sectors accounting over 7.3 % of the GDP yielding positive trade balances from exports that have risen increasingly reaching 115 countries. Besides its production  levels,  Chile’s  forestry  industry  is  used as an example of a renewable production sector due to the high annual plantation rates leaving  a positive net growth in their forest covers, which consequently has an effect in CO2 and greenhouse  gas reductions. However, and in spite of the impressive industry-level achievements, several environmental trade-offs have been documented in the literature. In particular, the rapid expansion of forest plantations is claimed responsible for biodiversity loss as native forest have been partially replaced  by plantations (Nahuelhual, Carmona, Lara, Echeverría, & González, 2012), water yield reductions, soil erosion and hence wildfires all of them caused by the massive amount of water required by exotic tree plantations (Little, Lara, McPhee, & Urrutia, 2009). This is a particularly relevant question given that is suspected that forestry has expanded mostly at the cost of agricultural and cattle raising activities. To  our knowledge, (Gerencia Forestal & Nazif, 2014), and Andersson, et al. (2016), and (Nahuelhual et al., 2012) are the only studies that directly research the socio-economic effects of the forestry plantations    in Chile. This paper provides micro-level based evidence of the impacts from the forestry expansion       on the economic and social dimensions of the territories and inhabitants where this activity has taken place. we combine spatial and satellite data with micro-level socioeconomic data to document the ex-  pansion of the forestry industry as well as to provide a clear identification strategy for causal effects.   In particular, we take advantage of changes in the regulation (Law Decree 701) in the early 2000s, spa- tial data of forestry expansion potential, satellite imagery, as well of and municipal and micro-level in- dividual data to measure socio-economic outcomes, to provide better estimates of the socio-economic effects of this economic activity. The main results from panel estimation on municipal-level data suggest that forestry plantations have gained space primarily at the expense of native forests, agricultural and pasture lands. Additionally, estimations based on micro-level data suggests that the expansion of forestry plantations have increased the levels of precarious work (unemployment, number of workers with indefinite contracts, and with no pension benefits), self-employment, as well as decreased income levels as well as the percentage of workers in the tertiary sector.


Participación en sesión: Recursos naturales y desarrollo local.