In the course of doing research for this book, I interviewed a num-
ber of forestry workers, union activists, and members of Mapuche com-
munities throughout southern Chile. During these conversations over the
years, I was struck by the fact that, across the board, the people I spoke
with emphasized the ecological degradation and loss of biodiversity that
has accompanied forestry development in Chile. Many attributed this to
the Pinochet dictatorship and Chile’s current neoliberal economic model,
often folding together the tremendous social dislocations provoked by
free- market reform; the trauma of state terror, which had been directed
disproportionately at rural laborers; and the ecological changes produced
by tree plantations. Campesinos concurred in viewing Monterey pine as
a force responsible for the alienation of their labor and loss of their land,
contrasting tree plantations unfavorably with native forests. To a signifi-
cant degree, modern environmentalism has shaped a broader critique of
forestry development and free- market economics, providing a language for
understanding social, as well as environmental, injustice. Talking about the
degradation of native forests was one way campesinos from all walks of life
expressed a critique of the dispossession that has been produced by free-
market restructuring since 1973.
The salience of environmentalist language in oral histories reflects a
significant change in campesino politics throughout southern Chile. As
this book shows, for most of the twentieth century, southern campesinos
viewed environmentalism, in the form of early twentieth- century conser-
vation, as responsible for excluding them from native forests on which they
relied for survival. In addition, in Chile, conservationist regulations de-
veloped over the course of the twentieth century hand in hand with state-
directed industrial forestry. Rather than implement managed or sustained-
yield timbering in native forests, as in other parts of the world, the Chilean
state promoted a bifurcated approach to forests and forestry. The commer-
cial forestry industry focused on exploiting plantations of exotic species,
often cultivated to replace logged and burned- over native forests both on
privately held property and within state- run forest reserves, while remote
stands of temperate forest were preserved in national parks in the moun-
tains. In both cases, southern campesinos, evicted from forest reserves and
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