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Strategic Adaptation Plan for Model Forest Araucarias del Alto Malleco (MFAAM) Landscape

This report is a synthesis of the information gathered during 2 years of studies and stakeholder engagement in the EcoAdapt process implemented in the Model Forest Araucarias de Alto Malleco, Chile.
Divya Solomon


Exasperated by climate change, many Latin American countries face critical water scarcity issues. Rural communities are particularly vulnerable because they directly rely on a limited freshwater supply to sustain their livelihoods. In addition to changes in weather and climate, other compounding factors such as demographic pressure, political dynamics, economic inequality, poor inter-sectorial cooperation and land use changes put stress on the environment as well as the way of life for many people. Communities are being compelled to develop adaptation strategies to address the foreseeable negative impacts of these drivers.

EcoAdapt offers a context-specific bottom-up approach to adaptation planning for water resource management focusing especially but not exclusively on landscape management. The adaptation planning process involves sharing and cogenerating knowledge with multiple stakeholders operating across different scales and policy areas through an iterative process of learning. For local development, this includes expanding on existing networks that link different spatial scales and knowledge domains. In Latin America, EcoAdapt has been working with three civil society organizations in Chile, Bolivia and Argentina that represent multi-stakeholder platforms called Model Forests (MFs).

This report*is a synthesis of the information gathered through two years of studies and stakeholder engagement in the EcoAdapt process implemented in the Model Forest Araucarias de Alto Malleco, Chile (MFAAM). Based on these findings, this report presents a strategic plan with specific actions and priorities designed to address the main issues, as identified through the consultation and participatory planning process with the communities of Lonquimay and Curacautin.

*download the full text from the right-hand column of this page. The methods used, barriers encountered and major impacts and outcomes of the study are presented in brief below – see the full text for much more detail. Please note that the Monitoring and Evaluation section is to be updated.


In Chile, water availability is not only an ecological issue but also a legal one, given that under the Water Code (1981) water access rights are considered a tradable asset independent of the land where it is located and are designated for either consumptive (human consumption) or non-consumptive (energy generation and irrigation). In the MFAAM, water rights for consumptive use are unavailable because they have all been purchased and/or assigned. Most of the non-consumptive use water rights in the territory have been acquired by private enterprises with the focus of developing hydroelectric plants. Tension exists between the demand for increased energy production on a national scale and the competing demands for water at the local scale.

Methods and Tools

Through a series of interviews, network mapping and validation workshops, barriers and strengths have been identified that could enable or constrain water resources adaptation processes in the territory. Key stakeholders identified through these knowledge co-construction efforts were part of the process of creating and validating the information used to create this report (download available here in the right-hand column). Members of these various groups are also part of the strategic planning team and heavily involved in planning processes for their communities. With the help of the community, eight key objectives were developed to serve as a guide in identifying priority actions that support the vision. These eight objectives can be summarized in this plan’s two core focus areas:

  • Increase citizens resource management skills and advocacy abilities
  • Improve livelihood

Plans for action were developed and rated according to priority perceptions regarding a set of criteria that includes: issue urgency, issue ripeness, implementation capacity, affected population, implementation duration and community building potential. Descriptions of these are provided in Table 6 on page 27 of the report.

Strategic Actions

Five priority actions were identified for each of the two main themes as well as 9 additional lower-priority actions to address improved livelihoods and 5 additional actions to improve management capacity. EcoAdapt identified four actions as critical to strengthening the organizational capacity of MFAAM thus providing a foundation from where to continue action over time. Two quick energizing actions have already commenced on a small scale to stimulate interest in the process and motivate participants with quick-yielding tangible outcomes.

Although seemingly these action do not focus explicitly on addressing climate change or climate variability, they are inherently linked and address the concern of stakeholders regarding local economic development. By focusing on feasible actions that will help insure community resilience and water availability for local development in a short and medium term, the resulting outcomes will also be in line the goals of addressing climate change effects.

Thematic focus areas

Thematic focus area 1: Increase citizens resource management skills and advocacy abilities

The underlying goal for this focus area was to increase the capacity of resource management and advocacy of those negatively affected by the current legal and environmental water shortages.

The top five actions to address this focus area are the following:

  1. Increase cooperation between relevant authorities and public actors in regional and local action
  2. Effectively manage human resources for cooperative action
  3. Transfer knowledge of water legislation to local and regional level actors
  4. Design and implementation of training and educational workshops aimed at key stakeholders and decision makers
  5. Design and implementation of training and educational workshops aimed at key stakeholders and decision makers

For details of each action, and further lower priority actions, see pages 28-33 of the full text.

Thematic focus area 2: Improve livelihoods

The underlying goal of this focus area was to improve livelihoods, which is intimately connected with the ability to access good quality water.

The top five actions to address this focus area are the following:

  1. Springs and wetland protection
  2. Promote restoration of natural resources to enhance tourism
  3. Reforestation with native vegetation
  4. Prevent surface soil erosion and degradation of the native forest habitats
  5. Establish legally enforced enclosures in critical areas – water pool reserves and upstream from catchment points

For details of each action, and further lower priority actions, see pages 33-39 of the full text.

Energizing actions

Through the participatory decision making process two actions were selected as quick steps that would help energize and inspire citizens to engage with the EcoAdapt process. These actions are being performed at a small scale, to both invigorate the process and to test hypotheses. The plan is to scale up these actions when further funding has been secured.

1. Springs and wetland protection.

MFAAM in conjunction with SEPADE and local communes in Curacautin and Lonquimay have started a pilot project called “Waters for development”. This pilot project involves working alongside local communes to fence in two springs and surrounding wetlands, and reforest parts of it with native species. The objective of the pilot project is to better understand the effectiveness of these actions in promoting the protection of sensitive hydrological areas, as well as engage and build capacity with the local communes. Currently the plan is to enclose a total of three springs, two in Lonquimay and one in Curacautin.

2. Reforestation with native vegetation.

MFAAM is working in conjunction with CONAF and local schools in Curacautin and Lonquimay to reforest recreational areas near school playgrounds. The purpose of this pilot project is both educational, to support student better understanding their local ecology, and for research purposes to better understand reforested species survival rates. The species planted are chosen to recreate a forest ecology called Roraco, which is a combination of oak, raulí, and coigüe. This forest ecology should improve soil organic matter, create nesting habitat for birds, provide with firewood, create wind curtains, and provide shade in the summer months. Currently the plan is to work with two schools, one in each town.

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