Your window to the world of Chilean Plants...10 Years Anniversary
Your Seeds Source since 2006...
Our Guidelines for Action
In the firm belief that the Chilean species are of utmost importance to the humankind due to their high endemism and potential practical uses and that Chilean plant populations are under severe pressure, with many species being on the brink of extinction, it is our main and general objective to actively contribute to the solution of this situation.
Considering the fact that the wild Chilean populations of plants are not effectively protected due to lack of effective legislation, enforcement of existing legislation, conflict of economic interests, and, in general, lack of interest in preservation, it is of outmost importance:
- to create and promote preservation programs ex-situ, both in Chile and abroad, . and
- to foster interest in the Chilean plants in general population and scientific community, both in Chile and abroad, in order to create pressure groups which would guarantee the safety of Chilean species in-situ.
Our general policies will be formulated in such a manner as to accommodate in the best possible way the two lines of action mentioned above.
As such, to address the first point of creating and promoting programs of preservation of Chilean plants ex-situ we intend to offer four solutions:
First, we will participate in creation and promotion of preservation programs by providing the seeds for the interested parties as the first step for implementing these programs.
Second, we will work to establish a seed bank with some foreign institution. We believe that we can provide a much more efficient solutions to that effect than the state-run institutions.
Third, we will expand our own botanical garden to be used to safeguard endangered Chilean species and to obtain information about their propagation.
Fourth, we will establish a commercial-scale propagation nursery for native Chilean plants, the objective of which will be to distribute Chilean plants to legal entities and persons interested in preservation and which will also act as a supplier of plants for legal entities which damage the environment (mining companies, construction companies, forestry companies, etc.) and which are required by law to mitigate their impact on the environment by replanting the damaged areas.
To implement successfully the four solutions mentioned above we will abide by the following guidelines:
Our main objective is to distribute to as many institutions and individuals as possible, both foreign and Chilean, the seeds of Chilean plants, putting special emphasis on endangered and endemic species, and species which potentially may present practical uses, like medicinal or edible. Preference would be given to non-profit institutions which actively work in the preservation or investigation of endangered plant species or in development of commercial crops, like botanical gardens, university experimental gardens, scientific researchers, edible products analysts, etc., but any legal entity or person who declares his or her intent to use the seeds for the purposes of investigation, education, propagation, promotion of use, or any other non-commercial purpose will be able to participate (exception to this non-commercial use clause are the foreign distributors of seeds who may do the work of spreading and distributing the Chilean seeds much more efficiently in their home countries than we can, and thus will be permitted to resell the seeds at a profit at their discretion, provided that they agree to the clause of non-commercial use by the final buyer).
The process of distribution is not free and the participants will be charged a fee for the seeds. In justified cases, where the participant has no funding and is doing research work, we can waive this fee and provide the seeds free of charge.
The returns from the sale of the seeds will be used mainly to finance the work we are already doing and which is not funded by any Chilean or foreign entity: development of the on-line live herbarium (web page), the implementation of an experimental botanical garden, and the establishment of commercial nursery for native Chilean plants.
We believe that this policy will lead to the creation of genetic back-up populations all over the world which would provide a safety net, and by making the Chilean seeds and plants readily available to interested parties we will contribute to increased interest in investigating their useful properties and ultimately protecting the wild populations. Our "open door" policy for seeds is also intended to counteract the influence of certain xenophobic sectors in Chilean botany who, under the false pretext of safeguarding national resources, try to monopolize the research and thus impede general progress.
our long-term objective is to find non-profit organizations who may contribute to its creation (both financially and technologically). We believe that our knowledge of the Chilean plants and plant populations and our efficiency in carrying out the work up to date would allow us to stock and maintain the seed bank at a fraction of a cost of a state-run non-profit institution. We believe that our seed collection of Chilean species is the largest in the world, can be easily expanded further, and what is required to keep it permanent, is investment in infrastructure (cold storage chambers, etc.). This could provide a cornerstone for safeguarding the endangered Chilean species.
We will expand our (still) small collection of plants, most of which were obtained from the seeds we collected. The objective of this botanical garden will be to determine the procedures for germinating and establishing plants for which no prior cultivation information was available. We will give priority to endangered plants and also plants which are edible or have medicinal properties. For the latter, whenever possible and the funds are available, we will try to carry out feasibility studies to investigate their commercial potential.
We will terminate the implementation of commercial-scale nursery (parts of infrastructure of which are already implemented) which will have the capacity to propagate plants in large numbers (100.000 - 300.000 plants annually). This nursery will expand and apply the experiences obtained in our experimental botanical garden.
The plants obtained in this nursery would be used for the following:
- limited sale to institutions and individuals interested in acquiring species, so as to create back-up populations.
- sale of plants for replanting to companies which are required by law to mitigate the damages to the environment they inflict.
This last point is especially important to cover the growing demand for native endangered species by companies which damage the environment and are required to replant the affected areas. The nursery will provide all kinds of smaller species for replanting, so that the vegetation formations of the affected areas can be completely recovered, not just the more visible large-sized species; up to now mainly the tree species were taken into consideration in the Environmental Impact Studies, leaving thus the underbush without protection. By providing a supply of smaller plants we will eliminate the pretext of non-availability used by the companies to reduce the replanting extent.
In this sense we will also actively participate in the evaluation of Environmental Impact Studies presented by companies which damage the environment in order to filter out errors and omissions as far as the impact on smaller plants is concerned, and to require full mitigation of these damages, including for smaller species which, up to now, were usually not considered.
The proceeds from the sale of these plants will go mainly to finance the other work we are doing, namely, creating on-line herbarium of Chilean plants and botanical garden.
We believe that the only effective way to assure protection of in-situ populations is through creation of parties interested in actively protecting the environment. In Chile there is almost complete lack of interest in this issue, and the existing environmental pressure groups are extremely weak and do not have much impact in the decision making process which affects the environment. On the other hand, Chile lives mainly off its natural resources (extensive animal grazing, forestry, mining, hydroelectric power generation), so that these economic pressure groups have a much stronger say.
To safeguard and protect the Chilean Flora we consider that it is necessary to create consciousness both locally and on international level about the problems affecting the plant populations here. This consciousness will lead to creation of potential strong pressure groups which will be able to modify the decision making process related to environmental issues; in some cases the first steps were already done, as is the case with forestry, where the local industry is very preoccupied about the international image it may have at the moment the sales contracts are signed and implements some protection programs. In other cases, like in Los Condores Hydroelectric Dam Project, where the company intends to replant 50 % of all Austrocactus philippi individuals known to be in existence in the world to make way for its installations, that is not yet apparent... But this dam will supply energy to Chile, not export it. Probably the worst example where urgently something has to be done is livestock policy, especially the goats. It is ridiculous that in Paposo the goats are finishing off the last 120 individuals known to exist of Dalea azurea, that vast areas of IV region are barren and devastated by overgrazing, that the local Chilean "cowboys" do not hesitate to sneak their horses for grazing into El Morado Natural Monument and the administration does not do anything about it, although this is strictly prohibited. The only effective solution to stop this destruction is to educate and form pressure groups which will be able to exert leverage at the moment of designing and implementing environmental policies
Our web page, www.chileflora.com, is addressing and will address this situation. It already provides basic and popularized information about Chilean plants, information which can serve to increase the interest both in Chile and abroad among the general population. The provision of seeds to general public in Chile and abroad also goes in line with it and allows to involve people in a practical, hands-on manner. Our webpage also provides tools for identifying plants for persons working with plants, such forestry engineers, botany students, etc. We are convinced that in the long run this effort will pay off.
Next step would be to define the exact danger zones and provide popularized information about the different players on the Chilean soil who cause the destruction.
And we will continue to work on the main part of the page, the on-line live herbarium, both in extension and depth. The objective will be to include most of the Chilean species and provide more information on the plants (encyclopedia style). Finally, a possible project will be the development of a system with interactive search keys which would allow to positively identify any Chilean plant within a few minutes by a person with just basic botany knowledge in field, a version for Palm Computer.