Tag Archives: South America

Austrocedrus forests of South America are pivotal ecosystems at risk due to the emergence of an exotic tree disease: can a joint effort of research and policy save them?

Human expansion, global movement, and climate change have led to a number of emerging and re-emerging diseases. The decline of biodiversity due to emerging plants pathogens may cause habitat and wildlife loss and declines in ecosystem services. This, in turn, often results in lower human well-being. Reports
of emerging plant diseases are constantly on the rise, and often they appear to be linked to the commercial trade of plants and plant products. While there are several examples of decimation or extinction of plant hosts affected by invasive forest diseases, there are no known cases of invasive forest diseases successfully eradicated.

Austrocedrus chilensis covers today a total estimated area of 185,000 ha in South America. As a dominant forest species, its role in supporting biodiversity, generating shelter for wildlife, as well as preventing soil erosion and preserving water quality is well understood. Along with Araucaria araucana, it is the tree species that grows furthest into the ecotone zone within the Patagonia steppe, where it plays a key role preventing desertification. There are however additional functions this tree provides, including the production of valuable timber and the generation of an environment ideal for cattle grazing, recreational and touristic activities and for human settlement. As one moves South, this species becomes more and more important, and it is often one of only three dominant native tree species in forests. Due to its ecological importance and to its role in fostering human activities, A. chilensis can be regarded an essential element of the agro-forest society of both Chile and Argentina.

Starting in 1948, significant mortality of A. chilensis was reported in several areas.

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