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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Experts from the Americas, Asia and Oceania meet in Chile to discuss the fight against illegal logging

This meeting is among the first Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) activities to be held in Chile, the host country for APEC 2019.

Santiago, February 23, 2019.  The international workshop bringing together experts from twelve economies seeks to take concrete steps to combat illegal logging and associated trade, to promote trade in legally harvested forest products, and to support capacity building activities in APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) member economies. The workshop is taking place in the context of the First Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM1) and related meetings of APEC Chile 2019 and is being held at the InterContinental Hotel in Santiago, Chile.

Speaking during the opening of the conference of the Expert Group on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade (EGILAT), the acting Executive Director of the National Forestry Service (CONAF), Juan Carlos Castillo, said, “as the Chilean forestry service we feel that we have made very significant advances in introducing technologies for the timely and efficient detection of illegal logging, as well as in monitoring various forest management tools, such as management plans.”

He added that, “CONAF is a regional leader in forestry regulation and oversight through the modernization of its institutional management and the incorporation of new information technologies.” This was reinforced during the presentation given by the Head of the Monitoring and Evaluation Section, Gonzalo Tapia Koch, who spoke to fellow experts about the LEMU monitoring system for forestry harvesting and extraction.

This technology was designed and developed by CONAF with support from the universities of Göttingen (Germany), Santiago del Estero (Argentina) and Austral and La Frontera (Chile). It uses satellite images to coordinate oversight activities and detect unauthorized logging, as well as other alterations or damage to the vegetation, such as removal of native vegetation or forest diseases.

For Castillo, the work carried out in these international institutions has had a positive impact on the development of remote detection and satellite monitoring tools, such as LEMU.  He added, “we will specifically encourage any alliance that will help us control and stop illegal logging and trade in our forestry resources.”

During the meeting this weekend, the 65 people in attendance (30 from abroad) are sharing and discussing their experiences with remote detection, ground-based tools, the traceability of forest resources, wood identification, and origin tracing of forest products from across all three continents.  

On Monday, February 25, an international delegation consisting of representatives from Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and the United States will visit Lago Peñuelas National Reserve.  Here they will be able to see for themselves the LEMU system developed by CONAF. They will also visit forest nurseries and plantations and participate in various activities such as on-site inspections, forest inventories and drone flights.

On Tuesday, February 26 and Wednesday, February 27, a seminar will be held in Talca called, “Technological innovations from APEC economies designed to evaluate and protect forest ecosystems.”  The seminar will focus on recent advances in areas related to evaluating and protecting forest ecosystems and will feature speakers from Australia, the United States and Chile. It will also serve to inform the general public about the work of APEC.

CONAF has been an active member of EGILAT since 2013, providing technical advice on pertinent subjects to the General Directorate of International Economic Affairs (DIRECON) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile, through the Forestry Oversight Department of the Managerial Directorate for Environmental Oversight and Evaluation.

APEC is the foremost intergovernmental forum for promoting economic growth, technical and economic cooperation and facilitating and liberalizing trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. Created in 1989, it comprises 21 member economies including Chile, which joined in 1994.