Chilean firefighting goats fight forest fires.

Chile's firefighting goats protect a native forest from deadly blazes
Image: Reuters

Wildfires ravaged Santa Juana, a city in southern Chile, earlier this year. Locals have now enlisted the assistance of a one-of-a-kind taskforce: a herd of goats.

The goats have already saved the native forest of the Bosques de Chacay from being consumed by forest fires, which killed dozens of people, injured thousands, and destroyed nearly 440,000 acres of land in south-central Chile in February.

“The park was surrounded by fires, but it ended up being the only green spot left,” Rocio Cruces, cofounder of the 16-hectare (40-acre) park and “Buena Cabra,” a project that uses goats to build firebreaks, explained.

This method, which is also used in Portugal and Spain, employs goats to graze dry pastures and other vegetation that can spark forest fires in the summer. Goat poop reduces soil erosion while increasing soil fertility.

“The fire reached our forest, but only the first line of trees was really affected, which was less than 10% of the park,” Cruces said, adding that small fires broke out but did not spread due to the lack of brush.

The project was initiated by the city of Cruces in the aftermath of devastating wildfires in 2017. She began with 16 goats and has grown to 150 in the hopes of inspiring others to start their own herds.

According to forestry expert Francisco Di Napoli of Chile’s University of Concepcion, “in Chile, we are failing in fire prevention.” This is known as “strategic grazing.”

“These animals can help us a lot,” Di Napoli said, suggesting that other groups “evaluate where it can be applied, find where there’s fuel, and have the goats eat it.”

About News Team

Hi, I'm Alex Perez, an experienced writer with a focus on lifestyle and culture news. From food and fashion to travel and entertainment, I love exploring the latest trends and sharing my insights with readers. I also have a strong interest in world news and business, and enjoy covering breaking stories and events.

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