So did you hear timber plantations are at least a concerning issue?
Key general data were presented by Rubens Garlipp (SBS, Brazil) showing some of the usually known but also many of the "lesser known facts" about plantation forestry, some of which we share below:
Did you know that a 24% of total tree plantation area worldwide is not there for a productive function... but as protective and/or restoration action for previously damaged ecosystems? Think of that each time you hear plantations are not forests and equal to "green deserts".
Did you know that only a 17% of total plantation area worldwide is held by corporate forestry firms and the de-centralization process keeps increasing in such a way that public governmental agencies and private non corporate investors are the big majority? There are many fishes in the wooden pool! Think of that each time you read that plantations are equal to trans-national corporations, and hence guilty of all imaginable sins.
Did you know that all cultivated forests worldwide together account just around 1% of total available land... but they yield some 40% of the yearly wood output for human use... and 70% of the global industrial demand of roundwood? Think of that each time you read that plantations do not contribute to relieve pressure on timber harvest of natural forests.
Did you know that it takes 100 to 200 times less energy to produce a ton of timber in a forestry plantation than manufacturing a ton of other building materials, as metal or concrete? A ton of timber is always better than none. Think of that each time you read that timber products non certified by "the writer's favourite certification scheme" equal bad consumer habits.
Did you know that simply to meet future demand caused by increasing population and improving living standards in several countries around the world we will need to harvest at least 5,000 Million cubic meters of industrial timber per year from 2020 on? Think of that each time you hear the noisy speech of "anti-plantation" demagogy.
Later Fred Cubbage (NCSU, Raleigh, USA) reviewed key macro-economic data for different fast growth timber types in different geographic scenarios. The highest IRR for tree plantations are achieved in Brazil (E. grandis, 25% IRR, aka TIR), but similar figures apply to E. globulus in Uruguay (23%), E. grandis in Paraguay (21%), Tectona grandis (teak) in Venezuela (21%); Pinus taeda in Brazil (21%) or E. grandis in Argentina (20%). This shows well managed eucalypt plantations based on good genetics and cultivated under technical supervision are one of the most attractive options for environmentally friendly investment in primary resources. But potential for profit is not all. Risk management is very important. That's the reason you won't stop investing in New Zealand's Radiata Pine or Southern USA P. taeda plantations, even if IRR is "just" around 8%. Because it is unlikely that a war, lack of political stability or lack of market transparency can affect your long term investments in such scenarios.
Third, Brad Sanders (April) described an example of plantation forestry in Sumatra (Indonesia) designed at a landscape level: 485,000 hectares (and increasing) of mosaic fiber plantations of fast growing Acacia mangium (45 m3/ha/ano) and A. crassiocarpa (36 m3/ha/ano). and a 140 million plant/per year capacity forestry nursery. Developed with the involvement of local inhabitants, who join the project freely (nothing happening without their prior and informed consent) benefits are not just financial, also social (35 jobs each 100 hectares) and environmental (48 ton per hectare per year of sequestered CO2).
Finally, Héctor from Costa Rica explained the results of public forestry plantation investments in the last 30 years: 150,000 hectares of timber plantations; 38,000 of them small growers combining agricultural and forestry uses in agro-silvicultural systems; quality timbers as Tectona grandis & Gmelina arborea, plus others. This means 75% of wood demand in the country can be supplied from planted forests, without affecting native forests. Still, to sustain this environmentally friendly strategy, further investment is needed.
And we also found in Buenos Aires...
Here you can see Brazil (Celso Foelkel), Spain (yours truly) and Argentina (Daniel Maradei) happily talking on eucalypt uses... just in front of a 100% Eucalyptus solid wood built Exhibition Stand... belonging to Entre Ríos Province in Argentina. We will show you what is inside that great place with our good friend Martín Sánchez Acosta... in the next installment!
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© 2007-2009 Gustavo Iglesias Trabado. Please contact us if you want to use all or part of this text and photography elsewhere. We like to share, but we do not like rudeness.