UC Academics Visit Areas Affected by Fires in Search of New Prevention and Restoration Solutions

A tour of the surroundings of Nacimiento in the Biobío Region -one of the places most affected by the catastrophe occurred in February this year- was made within the framework of CMPC’s and Universidad Católica’s Biodiversity and Sustainable Development Chair, which seeks to promote collaboration between the academic and the private world in terms of sustainability.

After the fires in January and February of this year, which affected more than 450 thousand hectares in the central-southern area of Chile, CMPC launched an ambitious reconstruction and restoration plan in order to support the affected communities, prevent new disasters and restore the biodiversity devastated by the fire.

In this context, and through CMPC’s and Universidad Católica’s Biodiversity and Sustainable Development Chair -which, among other things, seeks to create spaces for research and collaboration between the academic world and the company’s challenges- a tour with seven academics who participate in this chair and a CMPC team was made of the surroundings of the municipality of Nacimiento, one of the sectors most affected by the fires in the Biobío Region.

With their eyes set on opportunities for improvement and support in prevention and restoration, the retinue, led by CMPC’s sustainability manager Nicolás Gordon and supported by the company’s reforestation experts, visited areas where the company’s plan is being implemented, such as mitigation works in High Conservation Value Areas (HCVAs), reconstruction of roads and restoration areas of over 400 hectares, specifically Angol.

Additionally, the academics were able to see the project for the longest biological corridor in Chile (140 kilometers long), which will connect conservation areas to increase biodiversity and favor ecological processes. They also participated in a meeting with neighbors from Nacimiento and Mayor Carlos Toloza to confirm the reality of the damage from a social perspective and visited CMPC’s nursery, Carlos Douglas, located in Los Ángeles, where the company produces native species for reforestation.

“We believe that collaborative work between the academic and private world is fundamental to joining forces and generating real solutions that favor sustainability, and that is precisely what we intend to do by participating in the chair. I am convinced that after this tour, we will manage to implement more efficient solutions and new projects that benefit communities and biodiversity as part of the ambitious reconstruction and restoration plan we are executing as a company,” stated Nicolás Gordon, sustainability manager of CMPC.

With various profiles ranging from hydraulic engineering, pharmaceutical and soil chemistry, ecosystems, environmental, agronomy and forest engineering experts to researchers from the Center of Applied Ecology and Sustainability (CAPES, Centro de Ecología Aplicada y Sustentabilidad), the participating academics will work on projects and collaborations in accordance with CMPC’s reconstruction and restoration plan after the tour, together with the Biodiversity and Sustainable Development Chair.

“Our goal with the chair is to formulate a great project based on the pillars of research, training and collaboration on issues affecting sustainability and the environment, and opportunities like this contribute to our purpose. We left with a very good impression of the activities that CMPC was carrying out in terms of conservation, sustainability and, above all, work with the community. Regarding these issues, several initiatives emerged that we should materialize in the coming months,” said Alejandra Engler, assistant director of the chair and academic of the Faculty of Agronomy and Forest Engineering of Universidad Católica.

The initiatives that will be promoted after this visit include the identification of research projects on issues related to fires and conservation, the creation of a UC internship program to work in the area, and a visit by students to CMPC’s facilities and premises.

CMPC UC Biodiversity and Sustainable Development Chair

The Biodiversity and Sustainable Development Chair of CMPC and Universidad Católica, created in December 2021 to favor collaboration between the academic and the private world, seeks to be a source of training, research and scientific dissemination in order to contribute to the country’s sustainable development.

Led by Rodrigo Arriagada, academic director of the chair and professor of the UC Faculty of Agronomy and Forest Engineering, Alejandra Engler, assistant director of the initiative, and Nicolás Gordon, CMPC’s sustainability manager, the initiative brings together the capabilities of both entities in the search of expanded knowledge and sustainable solutions for the country. It focuses on three action areas: training of UC students and CMPC associates, creation of outreach spaces for the community in terms of sustainability, and research and creation of solutions for the challenges faced by the company.