Forests as shields against avalanches

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Chile is prone to a multitude of disasters, which are increasing as a result of climatic change. In the Nevados de Chillán – Laguna Del Laja Biosphere Reserve, avalanches comprise a silent threat with increasing number of people being exposed to them. As an ecosystem-based solution, native forests in the region can serve as protective barrier against such avalanches. To effectively manage and protect those native forests and other helpful ecosystems in the Biosphere Reserve, awareness must be raised within local people and policymakers.

Within the framework of the ‘Ecosystems - Protection for Infrastructure and Communities’ (EPIC)-Project, which is funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is promoting the use of forests for avalanche risk management in the region through capacity and awareness building as well as public communication measures. Working alongside the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, the research indicated that the presence of forests increases protection against avalanches for local communities.