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In southern Chile, wood fires keep chilly winters at bay. Pot-bellied stoves, crackling logs, and curling smoke make for picturesque scenes, but the widespread use of firewood comes with some big negatives. It contributes to the country’s massive deforestation, as well as to the air pollution that’s choking urban centers.
The Association of Forestry Engineers for the Native Forests (Agrupación de Ingenieros Forestales por el Bosque Nativo, or AIFBN), a nonprofit based in the southern city of Valdivia, wants to stop the rapid degradation of native forests. The group knows that firewood is the cheapest – and sometimes the only – energy source available to southern Chileans. It also knows that selling firewood is an important source of income for small-scale, often indigenous landowners.
So AIFBN has developed a multifaceted plan that addresses firewood’s