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.
Alihuen: An Agrarian Conservation Story
This 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.
Snapshot Films Examining Life on Alihuen
After spending a month on Alihuen four short films were prepared examining different topics in the context of life on and around the property. The first examined modern art forms, the second looked at traditional art forms and the third looked at the natural environment. The fourth looked at Jeroen´s efforts to reforest his land and improve landscape connectivity and how this work fits into the broader conservation issues Chiloe faces.
Lalio: Street Art Inspirations
The artist Lalio completed a large mural that drew inspiration from Alihuen and looks proudly across the landscape from agricultural pastures to the Chepu River and the wild West Coast. Learn a little about Lalio´s inspirations and the piece in the short film below.
Telar Chilote (Chilote Weaving)
Grecia is a traditional weaver from the province of Chiloe, a large island off the coast of Chile. Hear Grecia´s story of how and why she chose to continue using Chilote weaving methods and pursue her interests as a traditional artesan.
Chiloe & Ahuenco National Parks
Chiloe´s Western coast feels like another world. It is protected by Parque Nacional de Chiloe in the South and Parque Nacional Ahuenco in the North, between them creating a protected area that covers almost two thirds of the West Coast.
Entering from the Northern side you will pass the Sunken Forest, formed when seismic activity in the sixties tore asunder the Chepu Valley, resulting in significant widening of the Chepu River and creating a paradise for bird life. From the sunken river you must wind through coastal forest, beautiful beaches, cliffs and even past penguin colonies in order to reach the dense old growth forest at the centre of the National Parks that remains near untouched to this day.