BRILLIANT PLAN USING BORDER COLLIES TO SAVE FORESTS
In a story that is happy all around, Chilean project using dogs to help restore vast swathes of fire damaged forests. Three dogs, to be precise. Fires in the El Maule region of Chile caused a loss of 457,000 hectares of forest and claimed 11 lives. But three Border Collies have been running through these charred forest remains and spreading new life as they go, in the form of customized seedlings, grass and flowers.
DOGS TO SPREAD SEEDS, RESTART FOREST ECOLOGY, BRING BACK FAUNA
Besides flora recovery, one of the major goals is to bring all the animals back that fled the earlier devastation. “The main thing is for the fauna to be able to live,” said Francisca Torres, the owner of the three dogs tasked with this big mission. The female dogs are named Das, Olivia, and Summer.
HAPPY DOGS JUST HAVING FUN SAVING THE WORLD
They jump out of Torres’ truck and run into the forest they are charged with bringing back to life by spreading seeds from the satchels, happily oblivious to the benefit they are providing. When the job is finished they get treats from Torres, 32, who also trains dogs to work with people with disabilities. Then she fills their satchels up with more seeds and sends them out again.
DOGS COVER UNBELIEVABLE 30K RANGE A DAY, SPREAD 10 KILOS OF SEEDS
Torres, who runs an environmental NGO, says these dogs—bred to herd sheep—are smart, vibrant and fast and therefore just right for the job. In any case, they are better than humans, she said. The dogs can cover a range of 30 kilometers in a day and sow up to 10 kilos of seeds, whereas a person could only do three kilometers in a day.
This work has been under way for five months now in 15 forests of the El Maule region. In some of them, grass is back and seedlings, vines and mushrooms have pushed through the blackened earth, thanks to the moisture that comes with the winter of the southern hemisphere.
ALREADY SIGNS OF RETURNING LIFE
“We have seen some fields that are now totally green thanks to the work of Summer, Olivia and Das,” said Torres. She pays for this work largely out of her own pocket, and with some donations. Torres expressed hope that this summer the seeds will have germinated and some animals like foxes, hares and lizards will have returned to the forest.