Savannization: Demonstration Project in Chile

Project Number: 
Project Duration: 
43 Months
May 15, 1998 to November 30, 2001
Institution of Principle Investigator while on this project: 
Jewish National Fund

Investigators (most current known information)

Soil Conservationist, Deputy Director Southern Region, Forestry, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (JNF), KKL. GILAT DOAR NA, Hanegev 85410, ISRAEL
TEL: +972-8-998-6102, FAX: +972-8-998-6120, Email:
Research Manager, Management Department, Instituto Forestal, Huirfanos 554, Santiago, CHILE
TEL: +56-2-693-0725, FAX: +56-2-693-0890, Email:
Professor, School of Renewable Natural Resources, The University of Arizona, 220 Bio Sciences East, Tucson AZ 85721-9900
TEL: +1-520-621-7276, FAX: +1-520-621-8801, Email:
Instituto Forestal, Huirfanos 554, Santiago, CHILE
TEL: +56-2-693-0740, FAX: +56-2-693-0890
Professor, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Mitrani Center for Desert Ecology, Institute for Desert Research, Sede Boqer 84990, ISRAEL
TEL: +972-8-659-6786, FAX: +972-8-659-6772, Email:
Instituto Forestal, Huirfanos 554, Santiago, CHILE
TEL: +56-2-693-0740, FAX: +56-2-693-0890

Proposal Abstract

The arid and semiarid zones in Chile cover a surface of 16.5 million of hectares, which is approximately 22% of the national territory. These zones are distributed between the basin of Copiapo River and the basin of Itata River, that is, lat. S. 27º and long. W 38º. These regions have serious environmental obstacles for the development of the vegetation and thus, for the social and economic development of the people who live in the area. The arid region is characterized by having an annual rainfall which varies from 50 to 250 mm. This rainfall happens mainly in winter but it is diminished by the high temperatures and the high rates of radiation. The semiarid region has a winter annual rainfall which varies between 305 to 1000 mm. In these areas it is common to have intensive rainfalls alternated with about 7 and 8 months dry periods.

To contribute and to improve this situation, during the period, 1999-200, the Demonstration Project of Savannization in Chile was implemented. This project was supported by the International Arid Lands Consortium, the Jewish National Fund, and executed by the Instituto Forestal of Chile. The main objectives of the projects were:

"To show how ecological knowledge, as well as the use of structures and the execution of activities on the deserted environments can be applied for the restoration of the degraded areas to increase the productivity and biological diversity."

The site of study is located in a sub-basin. Its main stream is a branch of the "Quelon" stream in the agricultural community of Tunga Norte, district of Illapel. Its geographical coordinates are lat. S. 31º37`35" and long W 71º19`30". (IGM Mincha scale 1:50.000). The land chosen is an area with an overexploitation of the resources, degraded soils, with minimum vegetation and high, steep slopes.

The project consisted in four modules oriented to study and to analyze the Savannization Theory and its application in the semiarid zone in Chile. The objective of each module was:

Module 1: Evaluation of the biological diversity and productivity on microphityc and macrophityc patches
Module 2: Evaluation of the surface runoff on microphityc and macrophityc patches
Module 3: Different technical effects on land management and cultivation
Module 4: Management of deserted landscapes

During the three years the differences of biological diversity, runoff and productivity between a microphytic patch and macrophytic patch were measured (Modules 1 to 3). The Module 4 consisted in a plantation of 5 hectares using different management methods of savannization techniques and species adapted to the semiarid conditions. Excellent results of growth and development of plants were obtained.

Other results were:

  • A project Web page in the Instituto Forestal Web site
  • An Extension Document
  • 5 activities of training and field days


No outcomes reported


Support for this project came from the USDA Forest Service and USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service