Mapping of reforestation progress in Chilean National Park Torres del Paine
Keywords: Forest fire, Remote Sensing, NBR
Abstract. The Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most important of the world due to its particular biotic characteristics, climate and geomorphologic conditions (Mattar et. al, 2012), which makes unique with invaluable attractions for tourists and scientists. Furthermore it is one of the main sources of income generated by tourism in Chile. It is located in the southernmost Chilean region namely Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica and comprises a total of 242242 hectares.
Since 1980 several forest fires inside the national park have caused great losses to flora and fauna. Despite several initiatives carried out by the national forest cooperation (CONAF) to reduce the number of forest fires, it was not possible to install sustainable management plans. As a consequence, it is still of huge concern that most of the forest fires are caused by tourists and visitors to the national park. Such as those in 2005 and 2011, that caused damage to a total surface of about 33000 hectares. As a consequence CONAF started to implement an updated reforestation strategy in 2012. The plan prepared by the committee was designed for a period of five years (2012–2016) proposing passive and active restoration measures based on the different ecosystems involved in the national park as it is necessary to reconstruct the original ecosystems and to conserve the biodiversity of the park. For this purpose, it was considered a study carried out by Pisano (1974) and the cartography that defined the park before a 1985 forest fire.
The aim of the present study is to quantify and to analyse reforestation campaigns carried out since 2012 in the Torres del Paine National Park. Therefore, we processed Landsat 7 and Landsat 8 satellite imagery acquired between 2011 and 2017. Our methodology is based on the calculation and comparison of the Normalized Burn Ratio.
Our approach indicates that almost 19000 hectares were affected by forest fires that took place in 2005 and 2012. Of the total area affected, 17761 hectares presented some degree of severity, of which 28% presented a high degree of severity. Up to 2017, a total of 13067 hectares have been recovered, representing a 70% of the total area affected by the forest fires.
After 2012, annual soil recovery can be estimated by 11%, or 1100 hectares. Nevertheless, this does not mean that leafy and tall trees can be found in areas affected by forest fires. It just indicates that soil recuperation has taken part and that vegetation seems to grow. As CONAF principally planted Lenga (Nothofagus pumilio) a slow growing tree species, almost 15 years have to pass before notable effects can be perceived.