Wine, Climate Change and Biodiversity Program - Chile

Place: chile, South America
Sustainable management of natural resources Sustainable management of natural resources
Total Budget: € 276.495,00 | Period: From April 2008 To


Central Chile's Mediterranean ecosystem supports most of the country's agriculture. This ecosystem is globally recognized for its unique ecological value, harboring 50% of all Chilean plant and animal species. However, less than 1% is currently protected, leaving countless ecosystem services (hereafter ES), on which agricultural production depends (like clean water, fertile soils and un-eroded terrain), unprotected. The Wine, Climate Change and Biodiversity Program is a scientific initiative born in 2008, aimed to conciliate bioversity conservation with the development of Chilean wine industry. Through workshops, meetings, socio-ecological studies, the Program creates a body of knowledge about the ES that sustain most of Chile's population, and directly transfers these to the productive sector and neighboring communities. Our work shows that science and industry working together can find best strategies to preserve current & future provision of ES in face of global change


Institute of Ecology & biodiversity - Chile

Lead applicant

An excellence research center devoted to the scientific study of the origin, functions and biodiversity conservation of Chile’s ecosystems, with especial attention of the global effects. Its main goals are the development of both basic and applied scientific research, the training of advanced human capital, and the education and dissemination of science to the rest of of society. Our results help to increase knowledge on native ecosystems, contributing to the environmental sustainability of Chile’s development.

Viña Veramonte - Chile

Initiative partner

Veramonte was founded as a vineyard-based winery whosemission is to produce high quality wines that accurately, authentically express varietal characteristics via Chile's unique terroirs -- the combined environment of soil, topography, climate and people. Our commitment to nurturing the ties of every wine to its soil or "sense of place" reflects a dedication to produce terroir expressive wines.

Viña Luis Felipe Edwards - Chile

Initiative partner

La calidad de VLFE es el valor más importante, que permanece inalterable gracias a tradición familiar con más de 25 años de nobleza y minuciosa elaboración, sumado al desarrollo tecnológico constante en nuestros procesos productivos, otorgándonos una sello innovador, sin abandonar nuestra esencia elegante y de carácter único. Los procesos en VLFE son pro sustentabilidad, incluyen certificados tales como ISO, BRC, IFS y BCS para viticultura orgánica. Por ello hemos desarrollado áreas de conservación y protección del bosque esclerófilo, corredores biológicos entre nuestros viñedos, zonas de compostaje, desarrollo de agricultura orgánica e instalación de perchas y nidos para aves rapaces.

Viña Viu Manent - Chile

Initiative partner

Viu Manent es una viña innovadora, con origen y raíces en Colchagua, esta posicionada entre la viñas que exporta vinos con mayor valor agregado en Chile, ofreciendo sus productos a mas de 38 mercados en el mundo. La marca Viu Manent se construye a partir de la calidad de los vinos, prestigio de sus viñedos, liderazgo en su oferta turística, historia y trayectoria de la empresa y la familia, y el cuidado por el medio ambiente. Nuestros vinos tienen la personalidad propia del Terroir en donde se producen y la manifestación de este es un enfoque prioritario en nuestra Vitivinicultura. Nuestra principal cepa es el Malbec, para cual producimos el 100 % de nuestras uvas en viñedos propios y contamos con viñedos plantados alrededor del año 1900. Es en esta cepa donde hemos sido reconocidos como los mejores exponentes de la variedad en el mundo.

Viña Concha y Toro - Chile

Initiative partner

Actualmente, Concha y Toro es el principal exportador de vinos de Latinoamérica y una de las marcas vitivinícolas más importantes a nivel mundial, con presencia en más de 145 países. Una empresa global, que une tradición e innovación y afianza su compromiso con el consumidor para entregarle la mejor calidad y experiencia en vinos. Su filosofía de trabajo agrícola-enológica está orientada a la calidad en todo el proceso productivo y a rescatar las características propias y distintivas de cada origen específico. La diversificación de suelos y climas le ha permitido la mayor diversidad de variedades de la industria chilena, lo que unido a una profunda dedicación por el viñedo e investigación permanente ha logrado determinar los mejores climas y suelos para cada variedad, dando por resultado vinos que suman exitosa crítica internacional

Polkura vineyards - Chile

Initiative partner

Vineyard located in Marchigüe, western sector of Colchagua Valley. Dedicated to production of quality grapes and wines, focused in Syrah variety. As a part of the MOVI (Independent Winemakers Movement), Polkura has a human scale work phylosophy, in which the practices are made with attention to details, linked with the final product quality but also linked with an exellence treatment of Polkura family members: its persons and its environment.

Familia Garces Silva Vineyards - Chile

Initiative partner

Grape production and elaboration of quality wine in the framework of a sustainable program, with respect to environment and communities. Capacitation of our flora and fauna community. Development of organic practices, soil management incorporating organic matter, avoiding erosion. Exotic species extraction and native species incorporation.

Viña San Pedro - Chile

Initiative partner

In San Pedro Vineyard (Molina), 20 ha were reforested with native species (Quillaja saponaria, Peumus boldus y Cryptocarya alba, mainly), which are irrigated with treated water from Clears Industrial Residues (RILES). Since the year 2010, footprint was internally measured and projects to improve energetic efficiency were implemented, allowing reducing the direct emission by 4.8% for each bottle produced. Since 2006, our programs of water rational use permitted a consumption decrease of 20%. Nowadays, the entire new planting projects included technological irrigation, that allows having 75% of total surfaces with technological irrigation system. An exhaustive control of used water is done, by means of implementation of flow meters, which permit to compare year-to-year variations of irrigation volumes.

Odfjell Vineyards - Chile

Initiative partner

We realize an organic and biodynamic management in vineyards, in Maipo, Cauquenes, Lontué and Colchagua valleys, with a large variety range as: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah, Carignan and a nursery including Tannat, Petit Verdot, Mouvedre, Granach. We have a gravity cellar on the hill, designed to realize a soft process of the grapes and to avoid unnecessary agitation of wine but also to provide a natural ambience which permit to keep constant temperatures during the storage. In one of the vineyards plots, Norwegian horses are raised. They have an important place in the sustainable management of the vineyard because they participate to agricultural works. In all the plots, biological corridors were established, with native species, to promote biodiversity of flora and fauna.

Viña Apaltagua - Chile

Initiative partner

Sustainable vineyard management is processed, with a concern on ecosystem conservation, the right treatment of its workers and developing an enological project in its own vineyards, located in 6 different valleys. To be a multi-valley vineyard allows having variety and wine diversity, linked with each Origin Denomination.

Gillmore Winery & Vineyards - Chile

Initiative partner

the great wine come from limited áreas, and the Loncomilla Valley wuth its sof hills stretching to the coastal mountains, creates uniques conditions for red wine viticulture using the concept of dry farming, where the rain is essential for development. Alt Gillmore we continue to study our vineyards to ensure a good balance in our grape, and this, along with an artisanal winemaking technique in our cellar reflects the spirit of the Project. Our goal is to maximize the potential of the fruit with the dry coastal climate conditions, giving unique wines, aothor wines, which carry the essence of the Valley

Cono Sur Vineyards & Winery - Chile

Initiative partner

The vineyard was founded in 1993, with Premium wines production purpose to transmit New World spirit. Since the beginning, new ideas and technologies were added to the traditional winemaking process, with the aim to create expressive and innovating wines. This development was linked with sustainable vineyard management marking guidelines in organic management, improvement and certification of management system for quality and environment, membership of Clean Products Agreement, calculating our footprint, offsetting emissions, inter alia. In addition, the vineyard has obtained recently the certification of Sustainable Code for wine industry, ISO 50.001 certification for energy management and OSHAS 18.001 certification for professional safety and health. In august, the second Clean Production Agreement has been validated, in the vineyards and in Santa Elisa cellar.

Emiliana Organic and Vineyards - Chile

Initiative partner

Emiliana Vineyard main activity is the elaboration and commercialization of wines to export. Presently, our product portfolio is formed by the following lines: Wines with Organic and Biodynamic Certifications: Ge and Coyam Wines with Organic Certification: Signos de Origen, Novas and Adobe Wines produced with an sustainable management: Emiliana Reserva and Emiliana Varietal Our way to guarantee sustainability and ensure a long term business is integrating workers and communities and taking care of the environment. Emiliana Vineyard believes that sustainable agriculture, organic and biodynamic, is the only manner to obtain vineyards more equilibrated, healthy and efficient, generating an improvement of grape quality and thus, of wine quality. The three main pillars of sustainability are: the care of environment, the respect for workers and community in addition to be economically viable.

Southern University of Chile - Chile

Initiative partner

It is an institution of higher education, which places great emphasis on its research programs at regional, national and international level. The institution look out for teaching quality and gets involve in the development of social, cultural and economic aspects of the society. It also seeks to meet the intellectual needs of scholars and students.

Ministry of the environment - Chile - Chile

Initiative partner

Ministry of the environment is state organ mandated to work with the President in design and implementation of policies, environmental plans and programs but also protection and conservation of biological diversity and natural renewable resources, promoting a sustainable development, integrity of environmental policy and its normative regulation.

Montes premiun wines - Chile

Initiative partner

Montes's vineyars was born in 1987 with certainty that Chile could produce higher quality wies tan those produced so far. Montes was a pioner on Apalta Valley and mountainside planting, laying the foundations of sustainable growth. In early 90's we were already applying conservation principles in our Apalta's Lands, defining biodiversity áreas. We also construct the winery considering the natural light, using concrete barrels and gravitational syspems for wine management. To minimize use in vineyars we stablished strategic alliances with CONICYT. As a way to make known our commitment to the environment, we elaborated sustainability reports every year, which allowed us to obtain the national code sustainability certification for the industry on 2011

Chile’s Mediterranean ecosystem supports most of the country’s agriculture and hosts 77% of the population. This ecosystem is globally recognized for its unique ecological value, harboring 50% of all native Chilean plant and animal species. Regardless its ecological importance, less than 1% of its surface is currently protected, leaving countless ecosystem services on which food security depends, vulnerable. The Wine, Climate Change and Biodiversity Program is a scientific initiative born in 2008, aimed to conciliate biodiversity conservation in collaboration with the Chilean wine industry, as an example to develop a sustainable agriculture based in the protection of our ecosystems. With a socio-ecological approach, research is conducted and transferred simultaneously to the productive sector and neighboring communities. Our work shows that science, government and industry working together, can develop better strategies for sustainable agriculture and food security

We advocate for strategic innovation, positioning the conservation of nature as a key partner for agricultural productivity (beginning with viticulture), and not in contradiction, as was usually interpreted. We have achieved the following innovations:

1. Introduced the concepts of biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services in the wine industry

2. Engrained the idea that the ecosystem services produced by nature are key to present and future agricultural development

3. Encouraged the creation of protected areas regardless of the lack of governmental monetary incentives

4. Established a bridge between academia (ecological sciences) and the agro-industry, interaction that results in both nature protection and positive industry returns

5. In a short amount of time, we have transfered scientific knowledge to the industry as a whole, in a way that reaches many levels: field laborers, managers, winemakers and other professionals

Bridge between academia and the agro-industry The collaborative work between scientists, wine producers and neighbouring communities (photo), is helping control the spread of invasive species, and generating broader scale conservation planning. This work is also a example of the commitment that our partnering wineries are doing to propagate sustainable management with the rest of the productive sector.
Ecosystems services The VCCB program proposes a new strategy for innovation for sustainable agriculture focusing on the recognition and use of ecosystem services supplied by Mediterranean forests.
Transferring scientific knowledge to achieve better parctices Researching on which are the most relevant ecosystems services to secure production and increase resilience for industry and communities, is essential to achieve engagement of all actors. Ecosystem services concept is relatively new for our producers, therefore practices to protect and promote them are an innovation to them. Training is essential to generate a transversal commitment not only at the farm level, but in their daily life
Biodiversity conservation is useful for agriculture This video describes the experience of the first two vineyards that committed to our program in 2008. Both describe how they currently see the benefits (such as better grape quality and less need for inputs), and how they truly believe that this partnership not only have been good for grape production, but also for employers well-being. This is in part because they have increased their valuation of nature. The original (five minutes), can be seen in our webpage.

Chile's Mediterranean ecosystem hosts 50% of the country's native plants and animals in just 18% of the national territory. Despite its ecological importance, and international recognition as a priority area for conservation, less than 1% is under governmental protection. This area also harbors most of Chile's forestry and agricultural production, industries that heavily rely on the ecosystem services that natural lands provide (pollination, water yield, natural pest control, protection from erosion, etc). Under actual climate change scenarios and rapid land change use, the degradation of remaining natural ecosystem not only leads to the extinction of globally unique species, but will also have enormous negative consequences for the agricultural industry and the communities that thrive in this area. The only possible way to secure the continuity of food production and access, is engaging farmers, industry and affected communities in the preservation of this ecosystem.

Biodiversity in the Chilean Mediterranean Ecosystem The greatest richness and highest endemism (uniqueness) of plant and animal species can be found in the Chilean Mediterranean region, which represents only 18% of the national territory. Many of these unique species not only have a biological value, but also are part of the peasant´s cultural heritage. Both aspects could be lost, if they are not taken care and protected. Many of the species we have found in these farms, have been previously declared locally extant. These means that wine growers and many other agriculture producers, are the guardian of these unique treasure. In their lands not only coexists this species, but also are constantly providing ecosystems services essential to human wellbeing. This is why we consider this as a great opportunity and partnership.
Coexistence of biodiversity and production Under current scenarios of climate change and accelerated ecosystems degradation, it is essential to develop practices which preserve and restore existing natural and semi natural habitats that surround agricultural lands. We strongly believe food security (and human well-being), depends on the availability of these landscapes to produce ecosystems services, and that its possible to produce in harmony with nature.
Coexistence of productive activities in Mediterranean ecosystem In the Chilean Mediterranean ecosystem converge different productive activities, mainly agriculture and forestry, having generated great impact on soil degradation. This is even more dramatic with current urban development in the area, which host 77% of Chilean population. Decreasing water availability, erosion, and fires are present challenges producers need to face. We offer innovative solutions to these problems by restoring and preserving ecosystems services.

Protection of 20.600 hectares of native ecosystems adjacent to vineyards with native species previously declared locally extinct

13 vineyards participating in our Program, representing 70% of annual exported volume of Chilean wine

Introduced new farm management practices to protect nature, water, control invasive species, manage fires, restore degraded lands, & engagement with local communities

Wines of Chile is funding our program for 2 years to evaluate industries' management practices and improve their sustainability code

Trained 646 industry workers at all levels, through workshops, seminars, and direct advisory

Co-founders of Vinecology group that promotes conservation in winelands in Australia, S.Africa, California, Med.Europe & Chile

Secured funding for another 5 yrs, through National Commission for Science & Technology and 2 yrs from Ministry of Economy

Research published through scientific papers, conferences, industry reports and a better practices guide for viticulturist

Vineyards participating in VCCB Participating wineries and the year that they joined our initiative: Viña Cono
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Better practices guide for viticulturist The different practices proposed by the VCCB program are compiled in a field guide given free wine producers
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Cooperation with Wines of Chile We are recently working with Wines of Chile, in by we were granted the responsibility to review their associated vineyards practices and their national sustainability code.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf FACTORS INFLUENCING CONSERVATION BEHAVIOR CHANGE OF WINE PRODUCERS This study will examine whether managers’ attitudes, social influence, perceived control and corporate conservation behavior differ between vineyards involved in a sustainability initiative and those not involved. Structured interviews will be conducted with the general manager of each vineyard in the program (n=15, intervention), and from a convenience sample of vineyards not involved in the program (n=20, control). I expect to find that the intervention group exhibits higher levels of corporate conservation behavior than the control.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Paper Vinecology: pairing wine with nature This scientific text is a collaborative work between different researchers and work in promoting biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services in the different Mediterranean ecosystems.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Understanding the Decision Making of Wine Producers Toward the Conservation Mediterranean-type ecosystems are recognized as a global conservation priority due to their high endemism and increasing habitat loss. In these regions, winegrapes are a high-value specialty crop that can benefit from and contribute to conservation, as producers and consumers increasingly value environmental stewardship. The promotion of environmentally friendly practices among winegrowers is evidenced by a growing number of sustainability programs, such as the Wine, Climate Change, and Biodiversity Program in Chile.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf sample invitations and program workshops We sent invitations to journalist, social media, government authorities (Ministry of Environment, CORFO, Ministry of Agriculture), and other scientists.

We promote a strategy that secures ecosystems services (ES), with direct impact in food security, by preserving healthy ecosystems. Therefore, beneficiaries are:

Wine industry, by incoprorating new agricultural practices supporting production & keeping pace with market´s demand

Local communities, that by promoting the care of their ecosystems, increase resilience to global change & enable them to diversify their productive base: food items, cultural activities & local singular trades and traditions

Chile, by helping fulfill the obligations contracted through international biodiversity & conservation treaties, and avoiding direct conflicts with productive sector.

Chileans, by helping convert private sector into more responsible social actor, encouraging its commitment with native ecosystems, acting to mitigate & adapt to global change, reducing environmental costs that damages ES threatening food security, and fostering a more inclusive relationship with local neighboring communities


Knowledge transfer to local schools Environmental education has been regarded as essential to change attitudes towards nature conservation. We not only train people working in the farms, but whenever we can, we also train children in local schools. We are planning to establish this practices in the context of social corporate responsibility to involve and empower wineries on this duty leading to a long term relationship with the community
The value of local ecological knowledge One of the most rewarding experiences during this years, have been working with on farm employees. During workshops, they are able to show how much knowledge they have about nature and the services we receive from it. This is known as local ecological knowledge and now is regarded as one of the assets wineries have in partnership with their people.
The wine industry Constant activities with winemakers allow work strengthening links as they are world ambassadors of our Chilean wine, but also of our unique biodiversity and ecosystems. Including them in training enables us to achieve a more transversal attitude towards conservation and ecosystem services valuation.

We are a young (less than 40 years old) multidisciplinary team of 8 professionals (5 PhDs), from 5 Universities, from 4 different regions of the country. Additionally, our Program includes 3 graduate students from 3 Universities in three countries. Seven of us, including the Director, are women.  Although we all come with different undergraduate backgrounds (e.g. biology, environmental biology, agronomy, forestry) we all have converged in ecology-related postgraduate studies. In addition, one of us also holds an additional Master degree in Science Communication, which has helped us reaching our audiences more effectively. This multidisciplinary team was required to reach the very diverse group of actors we work with, which include field laborers, warehouse & cellar personnel, winemakers, sustainability, marketing and finances professionals, equity partners and owners, members of the Environment and Agriculture Ministries, and regional representatives.

Doing science with people Understanding of biodiversity can be delivered in different ways, for example through practical activities guided by the expert team in science communication. We are proud of the skills of our team and our success is based in the communication we have with our partners.
Learning from each others in one of our workshops Workshops on biodiversity and conservation biology can bring together professionals VCCB and wine growers, mangers and enologist, allowing a transfer of knowledge in both directions (industry-academia), that can be implemented both in workplace and in daily life
MEDECOS 2014: presenting the scientific community our program The team VCCB represented by Dr. Olga Barbosa, Dr. Luis Castaneda, Dr. Juan Luis Celis and Dr. Rafael Garcia in the XII International Conference on Mediterranean Ecosystems presenting to the scientific community that science and industry can work together towards conservation. http://www.medecos2014.cl/. A symposium as also organized in which one of the presents was Mr. Rodrigo Soto, winemaker of Viña Veramonte.
Top of the line science at the service of people We are currently conducting sophisticated DNA sequencing by using metagenomics techniques. We are linking our findings to both wine producers needs and the preservation of nature, by demonstrating the ecosystems services that nature provide to us. For this, we need a multidisciplinary team in where each knowledge is valued and respected.
Young professional and Maternity Youth involves different challenges, especially when it seeks to harmonize motherhood and work. The VCCB team is composed mainly by young women who are advancing in their academic careers while achieving family interests. We support each other respecting our goals, differences and similarities, and celebrate opportunities for integrating this aspects of life.

Biodiversity conservation has historically not been a topic of interest within the Chilean industry, which has resulted on vast landscape degradation and weak government policy. Also, there is barely any dialogue between scientists and entrepreneurs, which meant that a huge portion of our initial effort was put towards building ties with the wine industry. Once confidence was established, we realized that the actions we promoted towards conservation where implemented by single individuals, most of the time with no support from their CEOs. Thus, after 2 years we redirected the originally scientific initiative to build the strong knowledge transfer that was being required. This allowed us to incorporate the increasing number of wineries interested in being part of this conservation effort. We achieved this by inviting scientists (mostly volunteers) from different fields and by starting doing workshops with all different workers involved into the production of wine in each winery. 

Our initiative is firmly based on the protection of natural environments and the services native ecosystems provide. Our knowledge transfer activities (meetings, seminars,workshops) specifically aim at raising awareness about the importance of native biodiversity, not only for its own sake, but also for assuring services vital to agriculture. The results of the evaluations we run through the participants after our activities consistently show an increase in their appreciation for the natural environment that surrounds the agricultural land they work on. Participant vineyards have also incorporated specific practices that protect biodiversity and promote sustainable development in agricultural production. For example management of invasive species (such as removing water-hoarding Australian acacia trees), and setting bird perches and houses to encourage environmentally friendly pest controls. The 20.600 hectares that are being preserved support many endangered species.

Practice activity 1: Perch We are using artificial structures to help recolonization of raptors species in vineyards
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Planning a vineyard - VCCB The better practices guide presents an integrated vineyard management, where they identified practices for the protection and conservation of species, management invasive species, control fire and protection watercourses. This is promoted by new vineyards design

Our work started in 2008 as an academic pursuit aimed at studying biodiversity and its services in native ecosystems surrounding vineyards. It is important to note that Chile’s Mediterranean ecosystems are a biodiversity hotspot of worldwide importance, almost entirely contained in private agricultural lands (almost no national protected areas exist in the area). Since then, our work has attracted many participant companies, and expanded to include knowledge transfer activities. The visibility of our initiative called the attention of Wines of Chile, Chile’s main wine producers association, who decided to include us in their long-term sustainability plans. Wines of Chile won a government of Chile grant to improve its sustainability code, and our team became responsible for recommending specific practices to include in a revised version of the code. These new implementations will reach most of the Chilean wine industry

Learning from international experiences We have recently developed a collaboration with SOCLA (Latin American Society for Agroecology), to hear about their practices in other sectors of agriculture. In addition we are helping them to promoted conservation of native’s species in their horticultural gardens and peasant to peasant knowledge transfer activities

Dissemination is key for our initiative. We conduct knowledge transfer workshops to the company including farm managers, foremen, administrative, technical & financial staff, enologists & board members, achieving an horizontal sharing of the information & experience gathered by our program over the years. Activities are based on ecological first-hand enquiries, in which groups led by our professionals, step outside the classroom and take actions to answer ecological questions in surrounding natural areas. We also wrote a practical field-manual to help managers implement these protection measures, based on our research and their experience. To reach wider audiences we have an active presence on social media (Facebook, Twitter), and are incorporating other formats into our website (YouTube). We did a wine tasting event to which wine and food journalists were invited, resulting in 10 articles written for web and print media distributed nationwide and internationally.

Wine tasting to increase our visibility and educate consumers Wine tasting for the mass media was called "Verde que te quiero vino" (Green I love Wine; a resemble of the popular say: Verde que te quiero verde). This event was aimed at presenting the activities performed by our partnering wineries and VCCB Program as a means of stimulating the recognition of wine companies that make sustainable, and environmentally friendly practices
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Facebook, youtube and twitter of VCCB program Facebook, youtube and twitter of VCCB program has been created for present the initiative and spread the achievements, activities and lessons learned to make conservation