Chile has extensive forests, estimated at some 15.5 million hectares (38.3 million acres), or about 20.7% of the total land area. In 2001, the total planted area of forests increased by 48,302 ha (119,354 acres), while in the early 1990s the total planted area increased by 95,000 ha (234,700 acres) annually. Logging operations are concentrated in the areas near the Bío-Bío River. Softwoods include alerce, araucaria, and manio; hardwoods include alamo, laural, lenga, and olivillo. The establishment of radiata pine and eucalyptus plantations, largely as a result of government assistance, has helped Chile to become an important supplier of paper and wood products to overseas markets. Chile is a major source of hardwood in the temperate zone. Native forests are as yet under-utilized and could become an important factor in Chile's growing competitiveness. Radiata pine and eucalyptus are predominant in Regions VI, VII, and VIII; Regions IX and X contain a mixture of both native forests and plantations; and Regions XI and XII mostly contain native forests. Most wood products from Chile are exported as logs, chips, and lumber.
The total roundwood harvest in 2000 was 35.7 million cu m (1.3 billion cu ft). About 65% of the roundwood output is used by the forestry industry, and the rest is used as firewood. Commercial uses for roundwood include pulp, wood chips, sawnwood, and lumber production. At least half of Chile's population uses firewood for heating and cooking.
Government incentives also resulted in an increase of forestry product exports from $36.4 million in 1973 to $468 million in 1980; by 1991, forestry exports rose to $836 million. In 2000, the forestry sector generated exports of $1.89 billion. Export demand has especially strengthened for sawnwood and wood pulp. Production from 1987 to 1991 increased by nearly 60% as a result of maturation of trees planted in the 1970s. Chile's forest products sector has expanded through commercial planting, especially radiata pine and eucalyptus. The major markets for Chilean wood are Japan, South Korea, the United States, Taiwan, Belgium, Argentina, and Germany. The Chilean-German Technology Transfer Center in Concepción assists in contributing to the technological development of forestry in the Bío-Bío region.