Alihuen means Big Tree in the language of the indigenous Mapuche peoples of Chile. When Jeroen Beuckels decided to settle in the rural Chepu province of Chiloe with his wife Grecia this name was not taken lightly, for the farmland which it would represent has undertaken massive transformation from pasture to thriving forest. Alihuen is managed using permaculture principles to undertake sustainable organic agriculture while at the same time working towards large scale conservation measures to improve biodiversity and landscape connectivity in the region. They are rapidly approaching 22,000 trees planted on Alihuen and the effects are noticeable – the Pudu, the worlds second smallest deer and a relatively rare and shy creature, are regularly found on the property. Sightings of bird species dependant on connected forest areas have increased as Alihuen begins to form a bridge between the North of Chiloe and the large forested areas of the Chepu river and both Parque Nacional Ahuenco and Chiloe to the South and West.
Alihuen is truly land that connects. A cursory glance demonstrates the obvious improvement in landscape connectivity through the reforestation projects undertaken on Alihuen. However, it is also a case study in sociocultural connectivity as it acts as a conduit and inspiration for artists, students, agrarians, artisans and the community at large.
A thirty minute film aims to promote awareness of some of the conservation issues that are facing the island of Chiloe and through Alihuen provide a case study of the ways in which they can be addressed in a practical and sustainable way and the associated flow-on of environmental and sociocultural benefits that can be achieved.
The broad range of livelihood and conservation activities being undertaken on and around Alihuen on the island of Chiloe will be the subject of a number of short films that will be published in the near future.