After mining, the single most important export is forest products; in 2004, it accounted for US$3.6 billion, 11 percent of exports. Most exports consist of wood pulp, but finished furniture is increasing.
The forestry sector is controversial for environmental reasons, as overexploitation of native forests and their replacement by exotics such as eucalyptus and Monterey pine have created biological deserts—about 90 percent of commercial woodlands are plantations of nonnatives. Pollution from pulp plants, meanwhile, has been implicated in the deaths of black-necked swans near the southern city of Valdivia.
Forestry is also controversial for social and political reasons, as lumber companies have occupied ancestral lands of the Mapuche, who are increasingly vocal in seeking their return.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition