founded in 1897 and published by the Biology Society of Chile

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Revista Chilena de Historia Natural 80 (2): 243-253, 2007
Wildfire in Araucaria araucana forests and ecological considerations about salvage logging in areas recently burned
Fire is the most important kind of disturbance shaping the Araucaria araucana forest landscapes of southcentral Chile and Argentina. In the Araucarian region, climate and humans have influenced historical fire regimes over many centuries. In the summer of 2002 widespread, severe fires burned in Chilean Araucaria forests and became the center of much interest among politicians, scientists and the general public. The 2002 fires focused attention on the importance of understanding the causes and effects of such severe events in the forest ecosystems. Major wildfires generate large quantities of dead and downed trees, and promote the development of other structural attributes known as biological legacies that play critical roles in ecosystem recovery after such events. The potential for severe fire, either of natural or human origin, create pressures to either replace native forests with plantations of fast-growing exotic trees or to conduct salvage logging. Salvage harvesting can impede or alter the trajectory of recovery of affected areas, and it potentially may decrease forest regeneration and have detrimental impacts on key ecological processes. Forest policy and management decisions should be informed by a better understanding of the past occurrence of fire and its role in shaping the modern Araucaria forest ecosystem. Particularly, in the context of the exceptional ecological and cultural value of these ecosystems, managers should consider policies that effectively secure and are consistent with the restoration of the key attributes and processes of Araucaria forest ecosystems.
Key words:
Araucaria araucana, salvage logging, wildfire, fire history

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