Luis Felipe Gazitúa, CMPC Chairman: “Promoting the forestry industry is promoting decentralization.”

CMPC’s top executive participated in the Second Regional Meeting of IRADE Companies, which was held in Los Angeles, Biobío Region. He referred to the incentives needed to combat the retreat of the sector, institutionalize fire prevention, and modify the law on climate change to consider the contribution of monocultures as CO2 capturers. 

“This sector provides different sources of employment, is highly relevant in terms of exports and is also important if it is well articulated in terms of the National Carbon Neutrality Strategy. Tree planting is a central element of this strategy”, said Minister of Economy Nicolás Grau. 

There was great interest in the Second Regional Business Meeting organized by the Regional Institute of Business Administration (IRADE for its Spanish acronym) in Los Angeles of the Biobío Region. The meeting brought together regional authorities, businessmen from the region and the Province of Biobío to discuss critical issues of great impact on the economic and social development of the country. The meeting held at the Four Points Hotel in the provincial capital was attended by the Minister of Economy, Development and Tourism Nicolás Grau, Senators Gastón Saavedra and Sebastián Keitel, Congresswomen Flor Weisse, Johana Pérez, Karen Medina and Clara Sagardia, the presidential delegate for the Province of Biobío Paulina Purrán as well as the Mayor of Los Ángeles Esteban Krause, among others.

After the welcome address by Irade’s president, Paul Esquerré, the country’s energy sector was analyzed. The speakers, Diego Vio, legal director of Rucalhue Energía SPA and Julio Cuadra, Corporate Affairs director of Zona Sur Engie, underscored the challenges that Chile faces in terms of decarbonization by 2050. Both pointed out the urgency of accelerating renewable energy projects and simplifying regulations to achieve a diverse and sustainable energy matrix, promoting public-private partnerships.

This was followed by a panel entitled “How do we move forward?”, which analyzed collaboration between the public and private sectors as a fundamental element in reversing the economic slowdown that Chile is now facing. Minister of Economy Nicolás Grau, Los Angeles businessman Ítalo Zunino, and Empresas CMPC Chairman Luis Felipe Gazitúa all participated in the conversation.

Urgent matters in the forestry sector

At the event while discussing the timber industry, the CMPC leader remarked, “To promote the forestry industry is to promote decentralization. This brings a sense of urgency because the decisions we make today in the forestry sector will be showing up another 22 years from now, which is the time it takes for a pine tree to grow.”

Gazitúa also stressed that incentives should be given to forestation for the purpose of capturing and recovering degraded soils. He also said that Chile’s current emissions compensation system should be reformed to make it accessible and cost-effective for forest owners. He also suggested that plantation design should be encouraged in a way that considers biodiversity within the scope of biological corridors, among other matters.

Institutionalizing prevention

Regarding controlling and preventing forest fires, Luis Felipe Gazitúa stressed the need for “A brief fire law that is currently in the legislative process, which should focus on institutionalizing prevention and addressing the cause of fires, which have been set intentionally. Secondly, the government should issue a State guarantee for fire insurance for small and medium-sized producers.”

In this regard, he said, “I have to replant even if I my crops are burned or stolen, and this means that forest plantations are basically replantings. Only 28 additional hectares have been planted. More than 50% of what is burned down in forest fires is native forest. It is not only forest plantations that are being destroyed.”

Finally, regarding the forestry business and its positive impact on the environment, the CMPC Chairman said, “We need to increase soil capture and standards for the industry, since we are an industry that contributes to slowing climate change. We need to make modifications to the framework law on climate change, since this law does not view monocultures as CO2 capturers. The only possibility for Chile to be carbon neutral by 2050 is carbon sequestration through native and planted forests.”

Impressions of the Minister of Economy

At the end of the activity, the Minister of Economy, Development and Tourism, Nicolás Grau, referred to the context of forestry activity, stating, “This is a very important sector of our economy, a sector whose growth is led by the Ministry of Agriculture, but which we also follow with great dedication from the Ministry of Economy. We understand that the sector provides different sources of employment and is key in terms of exports. It is also quite significant if it is well articulated within the National Carbon Neutrality Strategy, which must lead us to carbon neutrality by 2050. Tree planting is a central element of that strategy. Therefore, we believe that there is a virtuous circle if these different aspects are brought together in the right way”.  

Finally, on the role of CMPC in the province, Biobío provincial delegate Paulina Purrán said, “We have been working with CMPC since the fires began in 2023. I believe that this public-private partnership we have created is extremely important, because it has let us connect with our neighbors to bring aid to those who have been most affected by the fires and the harsh winter of last year and this year as well. CMPC has created brigades not only for fires, but also for assistance in winter, and this is a tremendous tool.