Fieldwork in Chaihuín

Research carried out in eucalyptus plantations in the Valdivian coastal forest. Specifically in Chaihuín, near Corral. Photography, video and guided walks were used to explore the eucalyptus trees in the middle of the native forest.

In December 2019, we went with our families to investigate eucalyptus plantations in the Valdivian coastal forest – specifically in Chaihuín, near Corral. The monoculture eucalyptus plantations south of the Chaihuín River were planted 30 years ago. However, about 15 years ago, after conflicts between the company, the state and local communities, the land was donated to the NGO The Nature Conservancy (TNC) through the organisation of local inhabitants.

The conflict, mainly drawn by the different relations established with the categories of nature, implied a structural change of the territory. On the one hand, the forestry industry demands control and order over the species coexisting in the plantations. On the other, the communities were motivated by environmental causes and ancestral claims to demand more autonomy over the local flora and fauna.

This last aspiration prompted a radical change in the communities’ relationship with the territory, whereby in 2005 the 60,000 hectares of plantations and Valdivian forest became the property of the Conservancy. This transformed it into the Valdivian Coastal Reserve thanks to the joint management of local inhabitants (Terram, 2013). In this place full of contradictions and contrasts, we made different types of records: photography, drawings, video and a drawn walk, which then formed part of the exhibition ‘The Sound of the Falling Tree’ in Galería Barrios Bajos, Valdivia.