The unsustainable use of nature is leaving Chile without water

By Paula Díaz Levi

Despite the original abundance of its natural resources, mismanagement has led Chile to a serious water deficit. This is demonstrated by three emblematic cases where the major protagonists are fossil waters, avocados and rain forests.

Chile is a land of contrasts. In the north lies one of the most arid deserts on the planet, the central zone hosts one of the five Mediterranean ecosystems of the world and the south is marked by rain and lush forests.

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Chile’s unique marsh forests struggle to survive in a drying region

Marshy forests of the region that suffer the same drying conditions of the Ñague forest. Image: Antonio Maldonado.

By Medely Cortés

The so-called “Norte Chico” (Small North) of Chile has a semi-arid climate. Yet shrubs and bushes are common and, there are places where the flora is abundant and that trees seem out of place.

But a short time ago, Chile´s Center for Advanced Studies in Arid Zones (CEAZA) received an alarm call: the Ñague forest was drying up.

Yes, there is a forest in the city of Los Vilos, south of the region of Coquimbo. Its existence dates back thousands of years and has remained firm despite climatic fluctuations.

But lately it has languished.

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Scientists listen to the ocean to understand how marine organisms live

The hydrophone that records the sounds of the ocean for 24 hours is surrounded by an abundant school of Scorpis chilensis, a species endemic to the Juan Fernández Archipelago. Image: Iván Hinojosa

By Paula Díaz Levi 

When Ivan Hinojosa was working on his doctorate in Australia, he studied how the reef’s sound oriented lobster larvae, which swam several kilometers from the open ocean to the coastal waters to find a place to settle. These sounds are generated by the interactions of different species, just as happens on land, and constitute guiding signals for these little organisms.

That research about the Australian lobster demonstrated the essential role of underwater sound and inspired an innovative project, this time in the Pacific Ocean along the Chilean coast at the Juan Fernández Archipelago, Easter Island and Quiriquina Island.

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