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Welcome to the Website "Silviculture of Native Forests" of Pablo J. Donoso.

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Silviculture, a fundamental discipline of forest sciences, should provide alternatives and hopefully good solutions for landowners (private, industrial, public, NGOs, etc) to obtain the desired benefits from forest ecosystems. The desired benefits for landowners can be very different. Silviculturists should provide proposals for landowners to obtain these benefits without affecting the ecological fragility of ecosystems and the services that directly or indirectly these ecosystems can provide to human settlements or to people in general. Fulfilling all these objectives seems to be a great challenge. However, to successfully meet this challenge silviculture feeds upon various sub-disciplines of forest ecology and should consider the need to satisfy various social demands associated with the use of forest ecosystems. This is the essence of silviculture!


Chile has had significant advances in studies of forest ecology and stand dynamics of native forests. This has established a solid foundation for the development of silviculture in these forests. The history of use of native forests in Chile has led to the destruction of millions of hectares of these forests. This destruction has occurred through human-induced fires, especially during the mid-twentieth century, through selective logging of the best trees (a practice known in Chile as “floreo”), or through replacement of these native forests with plantations of exotic tree species (especially Eucaliptus sp and Pinus radiata). Massive fires were followed by the establishment of secondary forests that today have a great current and future timber value. Selective logging caused the loss of the composition, structure, function and productivity of the original forests, and consequently these forests do not provide the goods and services that they once provided. Replacement of native forests in a large area of south-central Chile (37° to 40° S) has created a monotonous landscape with poor biodiversity. In this scenario, what could be the contribution of silviculture to improve the goods and services that native forest ecosystems in southern Chile can deliver?

This scenario has motivated me to work on different lines within silviculture. To contribute to the diversification of forest plantations in Chile we are currently working on the project "Development of silvicultural technologies for coihue (Nothofagus dombeyi) and raulí (Nothofagus nervosa)plantations to increase the supply of quality wood for the forest industry "(FONDEF-CONICYT Project, 2009-2015; www.plantacionesnativas.cl ). Although this project is focused on two fast-growing native species, we have been also studying the behavior of many other plantations of native species, usually in the context of mixed plantations. Furthermore, this project involves the plantation of raulí and coihue under the partial canopy within high-graded forests, of which there are millions of hectares in southern Chile. With this project we are contributing to the restoration of these forests, as well as we are pursuing that goal in a project to restore native forests with the forest company ANCHILE Ltd.

To understand the behavior of forest succession and productivity in different second-growth forests, with and without management, we are initiating the project "Silviculture for promoting attributes to mature forest: Effects of ecological thinning in secondary forest in the south-central of Chile” (FONDECYT-CONICYT, 2011-2015). This project will evaluate the effect of traditional thinnings versus restorative (also named ecological) thinnings on the generation of old-growth attributes in secondary forests, where ecological thinnings differ from traditional thinnings in the selection of tree species, the intensity and type of thinning, and in the creation of coarse woody-debris and snags.

Finally, another major project with great opportunities and expectations is the Llancahue project. In this project, I am in charge of this experimental forest station, which has about 1300 ha of native forest cover in various development and conservation stages, and is the watershed that supplies clean water to the city of Valdivia. Since year 2008 this watershed is being managed under the concept of integrated watershed management, which includes reconciling the conservation of streams and forests with the various social interests related to the property, including those from a neighboring rural community. For this project we have been granted in conjunction with the NGO Foresters for the Native Forest over US$ 400,000 in research, development and extension projects, and in addition we generate an annual net income of about US$20000 from the ecological management of secondary forests.

Overall, my lines of research include diverse disciplines within silviculture, and all are developed with the aim of contributing for a more sustainable forest development for southern Chile, a better environment and wellbeing for those directly or indirectly linked to the forest ecosystems of the region. My wish is to share my experiences with students, colleagues and interested people from Chile and other regions, as well as to learn from their experiences to improve the contribution of silviculture to the conservation of our forests.

Pablo J. Donoso

Associate Professor
Department of Forest and Society
Faculty of Forestry Sciences and Natural Resources
Universidad Austral de Chile, Casilla 567, Valdivia, Chile
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Phone: +56 63 221189, Fax: +56 63 221230