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Forests as a tool to combat climate change for CONAF pilot projects

Blog | Wed, 23 Feb, 2022 · 9 min read
chile forest



The projects, included in the National Strategy for Climate Change and Vegetation Resources, were carried out in five regions: Coquimbo, Metropolitana, La Araucanía, Los Ríos and Magallanes, with international financing of more than $4 million dollars.

The last seven years have been the hottest recorded in the history of the planet, according to the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO). In Chile, this has been reflected in recent heat waves and the severe drought that has resulted in half of the territory under current decrees on water scarcity.

In order to contain the climate crisis, international efforts are being made to reduce and mitigate greenhouse gases. Forests, and native vegetation in general, play a fundamental role in these strategies, due to their ability to capture carbon dioxide and to contribute to the proper functioning of the water cycle, increasing the quality and availability of water.

Over the last four years, the National Forestry Corporation of Chile (CONAF), with support from the Ministry of Agriculture and in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), has developed a series of projects aimed at the recovery and protection of native forests. With a budget of more than $4 million US, these measures are part of the UN-REDD Programme in support of REDD+, with the technical and financial support of the three aforementioned UN agencies.

The projects were carried out in five regions of the country: Coquimbo, Metropolitana, La Araucanía, Los Ríos and Magallanes as part of CONAF's National Strategy for Climate Change and Vegetation Resources (ENCCRV), a public policy instrument that supports compliance with Chile's commitments on climate change, desertification, land degradation and drought.

The preliminary conclusions of these projects were presented by Gabriela Soto, Head of the Department of Climate Change and Environmental Services of CONAF, at a webinar called ‘Forests as a key tool to combat climate change: Results of the UN REDD National Program in Chile.’ This webinar, held in January, 2022, showed how positive incentives to reduce emissions associated with deforestation and degradation, as well as implementing other conservation actions, increase permanent forest cover and the management of sustainable forests.

The webinar included the participation of the Director of Greenhouse Gas Mitigation of the Ministry of the Environment of Peru, Milagros Sandoval, who shared her country's experience with the UN-REDD Programme.

Constanza Troppa, Head of the Unit for the Implementation and Formulation of Public Policies of the Forestry and Climate Change Department of CONAF, thanked the United Nations agencies for their support and highlighted the UN-REDD’s  innovative implementation of the Payment for Environmental Services program and the wide possibilities of replicability of the experiences developed.


The UN-REDD Programme in Chile contained three components: an integrated forest monitoring and evaluation system; new forest management models implemented for the direct action measures of the ENCCRV; and, the strengthening of CONAF and other entities in order to comply with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Regarding the first component, two products were delivered: an improved land-use change protocol and reports generated on the reduction and/or capture of emissions. The latter was consigned in 2019 to the UNFCCC and, together with the other Warsaw Framework elements, helped the country to receive payment for results from the Green Climate Fund.

For new forest management models, projects have been implemented and the experience of Payment for Environmental Services was highlighted. During the webinar, Gabriela Soto presented the following Payments for Environmental Services projects: in Coquimbo, the development of a model for financing the Cerro Grande Ecological Reserve; in the Metropolitan Region, climate action in forests integrating oasification (actions to reverse water degradation) in adaptive forest management; in La Araucanía, the rescue of ancestral practices for the sustainable harvesting of piñon as an action of adaptation and mitigation of climate change; and in Los Ríos, strengthening and generating Payments for Environmental Services in micro-basins that supply water in two Rural Potable Water Committees. 

Among other achievements, the UN-REDD Programme in Chile has "financed the development, implementation and execution of the safeguards information system, the purpose of which is to inform local, regional and international organizations on how the country is addressing, respecting and complying with social and environmental safeguards at the strategy level,” stated a CONAF professional.

The potential sustainability of the overall program was noted, with evaluations in all the participating regions showing a need in continuing and expanding the projects. Potential actions to scale were identified, strategic allies from both the public and private sectors were identified and the feasibility of financing was studied.


This article was adapted from an article of País Circular and CONAF (January 24, 2022, available at:



Judith Walcott

Safeguards and Multiple Benefits Specialist



Victoria Suarez

Programme Management Officer - Safeguards Coordinator