Mycorrhizal Forestry in Chile

  • Technology: Forestry and Land Use
  • Region: South America

Chile is one of the most developed countries in the Southern Hemisphere but an astounding two-thirds of the country (48 million hectares) is affected or threatened by desertification and drought (CONAF 2006). Of the 1.3 million people inhabiting the most affected areas, approximately 60% live in poverty.

Between 50 and 150 years ago vast areas of the country were cleared for wheat production for export, to feed gold prospectors in North America. Without the forest cover, particularly in hilly regions, soil is eroded and the land degrades quickly. These degraded areas are unproductive and liable to flooding and drought, making rehabilitation of the forest very difficult.

An innovative partnership between biotech company Mikro-Tek and the Chilean forestry department is changing this. Mycorrhizae are fungi that work symbiotically with trees. The fungi grow on the trees’ roots, encouraging the formation of larger, healthier root systems, enabling plants to absorb additional nutrients and moisture from the soil. In exchange the host trees provide the fungi with energy in the form of carbohydrates from photosynthesis.

Local communities have established nurseries where saplings are inoculated with the fungi to ensure its strong presence when the trees are planted. When planted, these saplings (now covering over 6,000 hectares) stabilise soil, reduce flooding and erosion risk, and provide an income for the landowners when they are harvested. This takes place 10-20 years after planting – at which point they are replaced with new saplings and the cycle continues.

Download factsheet on Mycorrhizal Forestry project

Mycorrhizal Forestry project factsheet

PDF, 7.3MB


6,000 Hectares currently planted

41-119% Biomass increased by fungi

50% Share of carbon revenues to landowners

What the carbon finance delivers

The land was so heavily degraded that before the project began it couldn’t be put to use – severe soil erosion was common and valuable topsoil was being lost annually.

The carbon finance made the development of the project possible by introduction of the mycorrhizal technology. It also facilitates loans from the government for landowners to do the initial planting and forestry plan – as a guaranteed income is forthcoming later down the line.

Delivering Towards the Global Goals

Previous slide

No Poverty

End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Quality Education

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities

Gender Equality

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Affordable and Clean Energy

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy

Decent Work and Economic Growth

Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all

Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Climate Action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Life Below Water

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources

Next slide

Take Climate Action Today

Contact us to turn your climate responsibilities into positive outcomes for people, the planet and your business.