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Launched TUESDAY December 10, 2019 on zReportage.com Story #717: Harvesting The Ends Of the Earth: The Chilean government announced plans to roll out a $5.5 billion economic recovery plan after rioting and protests triggered the worst monthly contraction in a decade, and crippling the countries economy. In the current scenario of the Chilean economic crisis, the southern austral regions represent a historical and coherent example of the country's problems. These are areas are scarcely inhabited, displaying a harsh landscape with vast forest areas, often beaten by the cold antarctic winds. These natural resources have always been themselves the subjects of economic speculations. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources in this remote and isolated area. Tortel is located several hundred kilometers from the regional capital Coyaique and was once only accessible by the waters of the Rio Baker and the Pacific Ocean. Chile is one of the world's leading producers and exporters of wood and wood pulp. Cutting and collecting logs has always been entrusted to individual lumberjacks. The artisanal nature of the activity and the harsh climate contribute to making the living conditions of workers and their families more difficult. The Cypress trees of Guaiateca are widespread in this region, a tree with flexible wood, very resistant to water and with highly flammable resins. The cutting of this tree is allowed by law only from the moment when the trunk is no longer green or considered dead. The chainsaw is the primary tool for the production of logs for both sales and home heating. Arriving only at the end of the 80s, however, chainsaws have not yet completely replaced the manual skill of the axe. In recent years, the difficulties have been amplified by the fall in sales prices due mainly to the development of mass tree extraction companies working in the more easily accessible areas (not least the Amazon region). And following decades of intensive forest cutting and clearing, the Chilean woodcutters today have to push themselves into an even more remote area regions, like the small islands of the southern fjords. To achieve a sufficiently profitable amount of timber the loggers work alone with their own chainsaws for up to fourteen consecutive hours, spending entire days in the rain or in the cold, away from their families.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
Tools waiting to leave to reach workplaces. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
Chilean woodcutter JORGE during the final minutes of a work day. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
The harsh climate often pushes the clouds to travel low through the headlands and canals formed by the waters of the rivers. Trees sprout through the clouds pointing to the path. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
JORGE, a woodcutter. He spends most of his time cutting wood in a tiny island called Vargas. Each time he brings with him the inevitable chainsaw, tools and provisions. The working days are long and start early in the morning. He knows the places and the climate very well. To move with small boats they are forced to take advantage of the calm moments of the ocean. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
The Baker River whose waters are the main resource for the forests in this region. It is the largest river in this area with its 900 cubic meters of water per second. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
JORGE maneuvering with his boat. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
JORGE retrieves some freshly cut logs to transport them to Caleta Tortel. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire/ZUMAPRESS.com
Crossing the Puerto Yungay Channel. View from the ferry port that is transporting timber to Puerto Natales. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
The noise of the chainsaw, the scent of sawdust from trees, of their resin, is felt in every corner. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
JORGE is looking for the best position to transport the logs. The wood and the woodcutter appear as a single entity The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
Cemetery along the Carretera Austral. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
The fingers of a woodcutter firmly grasp the worked trunk of a Cypress tree. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
Main pier of the central sector. The different piers of the different sectors are used for every form of transport. From water taxis to the unloading of wood and goods. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
The Carretera Austral is the only way to reach Tortel. Isolated. For miles you don't meet a living soul. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
Canal Sarmiento, crossing the fjords of southern Chile towards Puerto Natales. The albatrosses face the winds and accompany the ferry. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
The mouth of the Baker River in summer offers the opportunity for community life. Swings built by the cutters to let their children play. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
The journey of wood from Tortel to Puerto Natales stops off in a tiny town called Puerto Eden, one day sailing south. The ferry or military boats are the only connection to this village. Small huts for mussel smoking. Rare source of microeconomics of the local inhabitants. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
Caleta Tortel. Funeral crosses in memory of the pioneer workers of the area. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
Living conditions are hard for both men and nature. Remains of a stray dog died of malnutrition. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
Mouth of the Baker River. In this sector, maintenance work is carried out on the boats used by the inhabitants of Tortel, mostly made of wood. Areas with calmer water are the best way to mobilize boats. The inhabitants of Tortel are shipwrights and they have always been carpenters. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
A wild horse near Caleta Tortel. Its skin is steaming at the first light of a winter day. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
Appliances carried to the other end of the city through a boat. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
Kiosk interior with supplies just delivered. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
Search for radio stations. It happens to be able to pick up AM radio stations even hundreds of kilometers away. The favorites are those that reproduce music. But broadcasters also have a social function, transmitting also family or meteorological announcements. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
The maintenance of the lumberjack's chainsaw is a real ritual. Each tooth in the chain is analyzed and worked meticulously. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
Preparations for staying in the hut. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
A logger enters the dense forest in search of trees he can cut. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
The Rio Baker is considered the ''father'' of Tortel. Its waters for many years were the only way to reach these places. Thanks to its waters the forests are flourishing and thanks to its waters the loggers can transport the precious timber. Jorge, his cap and the Baker River. The Chilean woodcutters in the community of Caleta Tortel, in the south of the Aysen region, endure daily hardships of survival which are compounded with bad weather and lack of resources.
© Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire
Simone Francescangeli

Simone Francescangeli is a self-taught visual story teller who excels in relating stories about the human condition and its capacities and social implications of interventions in this world. Simone has travelled and worked in Italy, in Europe, South America and Africa. Simone has presented projects on topics such as Ethiopian pilgrims, Italian roads in Ethiopia, Artisanal divers of Chile, Child miners in Bolivia, in various magazines including: The Washington Post, TCI, Witness Journal, GUP Spain, eperfect magazine and publications in Chile and Italy. Simones Exhibitions have been in Italy, Russia, Japan, in Croatia and Chile and four Photo festivals: Ancona Foto Festival, Photoreport/Age in Pomarico (Italy, AnotherViewPhoto in Tolentino (Italy and Festival Fotografia Europea in Reggio Emilia. photo awards include: Editorial section in Moscow International Foto Awards in 2017 and in People-Family and Events in Tokyo Foto Awards 2016. Simone received the Lofotoreporter prize in Italy in 2011, and was honored by MIFA in 2018, 2017, 2016 and also the ND Photography awards. (Credit Image: © Simone Francescangeli/ZUMA Wire):717



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