Dog Foresting

Watch out Johnny Appleseed, there’s a new kid…or rather dogs…in town, and they’re part of an effort to reseed central Chile.

In 2017 forest fires devastated the El Maule region, with over 100 fires scorching over a million acres and taking animal and human lives.

Though fire is often part of the natural life cycle of a forest, the recovery process can take years across such a vast area.

Two local sisters came up with an ingenious solution to speed up the forests’ recovery process. Francisca and Constanza Torres use their trained border collies to spread seeds through the burnt forests encouraging flora, and hopefully fauna, back into them.

The dogs frolic through the woods with specially designed packs of seeds strapped to their backs. Seeds sprinkle out along the way and take root in the damaged areas.

Choosing the right dog breed was important. Border Collies are used to herd sheep and are less likely to be distracted by forest animals than other breeds. The operation has a low carbon footprint while giving the dogs and their handlers plenty of fun and exercise.

The dogs are faster and more efficient than humans, and can spread twenty pounds of seed over eighteen miles a day. It’s a simple and low-cost solution that the sisters, who run a dog training facility, currently pay for out of their own pockets.

And their labor of love is beginning to pay off, as they are beginning to see new growth on the forest floor, and animals are making a return to the burnt woods.

So far, the dogs Das, age six, and her two pups, Summer and Olivia, have re-seeded over fifteen forests. They run, jump and dart back and forth, loving their job, all while returning the forest back to life.