Comunidad Quinquen were one of the first Indigenous communities in Chile to claim sovereignty over their territory, a process that involved standing up to the Pinochet dictatorship. At the heart of the Pewenche struggle to fight for land and autonomy is the Melinir family, who stood up against timber corporations and military brutality to defend their sacred tree, the araucaria or pewen.
Comunidad Quinquen played a vital role in protecting the the monkey-puzzle or araucaria forests from commercial timber corporations, as they led the process for the declaration, in Chilean law, of the araucaria as national monument. Sadly, they might not save these amazing prehistoric trees from dieback disease (recent studies show 90% of wild araucarias in Chile are infected).
The cause of dieback is unknown, but it is thought to be climate change, and changing temperatures and rainfall conditions in the Southern Andes. The Pewen people speak of climate change as Quisukutran and Mapukutran, disease of the spirit and disease of the Earth, to be cured by a life in harmony with the forest. Hence the need for reofrestation as a healing practice. When land is healed, human soul is healed with it.
Guardians Worldwide is supporting the Melinir family with the creation of an Araucaria nursery and reforestation programme, to bring the Araucarias back to land of the Pewenche. The native tree nursery and reforestation initiative, first funded by the United Nations Development Programme, now relies on individual donors to continue. You too can save the prehistoric Monkey Puzzle tree from extinction and join the fight to save these extraordinary trees along with Alex Melinir.
Proyecto Araucarias de Quinquen
Comunidad Quinquen, Lonquimay, Chile