Eucalyptus paulistana: The Brazilian Giant


Navarro de Andrade, the man who planted 24 million Eucalyptus trees... or more.

Gustavo Iglesias Trabado
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Horto Florestal de Rio Claro / Floresta Estadual Navarro de Andrade / Forestry Station at Rio Claro / Navarro de Andrade State Forest / Rio Claro, Sao Paulo, Brazil

"Go, without delay. Leave anything else you have to do. Nothing is more pressing because nothing is more precious for you to do during your trip to São Paulo but visiting the Forestry Station at Rio Claro. Anything else matters little. Here you will find what you cannot see anywhere else. Everything is unheard of, gigantic, majestic... If you want a boost to your pride of being Brazilian, but with a well deserved and fair pride, then go to Rio Claro. And when leaving the place, travel straight to Rio de Janeiro... There is nothing else of interest to see afterwards for whom got to know the wonderful work of a Brazilian whose name so few remember: Navarro de Andrade"

Excerpts of correspondence between writers Monteiro Lobato & Celestino Silveira (1945)

We have seen previously here in EUCALYPTOLOGICS examples of Eucalyptus Giants both in Europe and in Australia surviving as heritage trees, and followed the development of the Eucalyptus Atlantic rainforest in Europe from a botanical rarity to a major timber resource. But meanwhile all this was slowly happening, a major figure was to emerge from the rich soils of Brazil. Before him the industrial uses of the ubiquitous Australian trees overseas had known of the failure of Californian expectations. After him Eucalyptus forestry in America but also in the world would change forever. What he successfully started a hundred years ago was to be followed for decades by foresters and silviculturalists in four continents. He was o plantador de eucaliptos. The Eucalyptus planter. The man of A Paulista. Eucalyptus paulistana.

Edmundo Navarro de Andrade (1881-1941), the brief story of an Eucalyptus Giant

Armando Navarro Sampaio & Edmundo Navarro de Andrade / Eucalyptus Giants of Brazil / Brazilian Eucalypt Pioneers
1820's - First mentions on Eucalyptus being planted in Brazil as botanical rarity.

1897 - Navarro de Andrade sets foot on the School of Agronomy at Coimbra (Portugal), in the neighbourhood of the Karri Knight and the first sizeable Eucalyptus plantations in Europe.

Companhia Paulista de Estrdas de Ferro / Paulista Railways Company / Sao Paulo / Jundiai / Rio Claro / Industrial Eucalyptus Pioneers
Navarro de Andrade arrives back in Brazil. In some months he would be in charge of forestry experiments and silvicultural research for Paulista Railways at Jundiaí Forest Garden.

1906 - Navarro de Andrade completes the planting of 32000 eucalypts at Jundiaí to compare their growth and industrial potential for short cycle timber production against 8000 native Brazilian trees. Eucalyptus won.

Rio Claro Paulista Railway Station / Terminal de Rio Claro da Companhia Paulista de Estradas de Ferro / Rio Claro / Sao Paulo / Brazil
Navarro de Andrade starts mass planting of industrial Eucalyptus crops at Río Claro to provide fuelwood, sleepers and poles for Paulista Railways. The experience on the 2200 ha of Rio Claro would spread on over 20 extra massive plantings along the main lines of this railroad in order to create a local supply of firewood/charcoal for steam locomotives.

Navarro de Andrade Eucalyptus nursery at Horto Florestal de Rio Claro / Produccao de mudas de eucalipto na Paulista de Navarro de Andrade / Vivero forestal de eucalipto de Navarro de Andrade / Rio Claro / Sao Paulo / Brazil
1910 - Four Eucalyptus specimens leave the Paulista nurseries at Rio Claro and are planted among dozens of thousands more. But these have a certain significance. Fifteen years later they will travel as wood logs with Navarro de Andrade to the United States to be processed experimentally into a pulp of cellulose first and further into high quality printed paper, pioneering the birth of a short fibre Brazilian Eucalyptus based Cellulosic Pulp & Paper Industry.

Eucalyptus Botanical Plate at the Museum Navarro de Andrade / Lamina botanica de eucalipto no Museu Navarro de Andrade / Rio Claro / Sao Paulo / Brazil
Navarro de Andrade visits Joseph Henry Maiden in Sydney during a world tour. Eucalyptus planter and Eucalyptus botanist talk on their favourite trees. Edmundo is gifted by J. H. Maiden with plates from the Herbarium of New South Wales and provided with seeds of over 150 additional Eucalyptus species to the ones he had already trialled.

Museu do Eucalipto / Horto Florestal de Rio Claro / Floresta Estadual Navarro de Andrade / Eucalyptus Museum Navarro de Andrade / Rio Claro Forestry Station / Navarro de Andrade State Forest / Rio Claro / Sao Paulo / Brazil
Building of Museu do Eucalipto starts at Rio Claro to store the vast amounts of knowledge being generated by Navarro de Andrade, plus artifacts and samples of all products derived from Eucalyptus trees. Nowadays known as the Eucalyptus Museum "Navarro de Andrade", it is unique in the world.

Navarro de Andrade awarded the Grande Medaille Hors Classe on behalf of Companhia Paulista de Estradas de Ferro from the Société Nationale d'Acclimatation de France
1928 - Navarro de Andrade receives the Medaille de St. Hilaire and the Grande Medaille Hors Classe on behalf of Companhia Paulista de Estradas de Ferro from the Société Nationale d'Acclimatation de France.

Navarro de Andrade awareded with the Frank N. Meyer Medal for Plant Genetic Resources from the American Genetics Association
Navarro de Andrade receives the Frank N. Meyer Medal for Plant Genetic Resources from the American Genetics Association. He would pass away some months later leaving the impressive legacy of 24 million planted eucalypt trees. If not more.

1942 - Edmundo's nephew, Armando Navarro Sampaio, continues the work on Eucalyptus cultivation and starts genetic improvement protocols following the footprints and legacy of his uncle. Soon Brazilian railroads would stop using eucalypt charcoal for power generation and start using eucalypt poles to build the newer electrified lines, but steel factories were to continue demanding their timber for energy generation purposes until nowadays. At the same time one of the major Eucalyptus pulp and paper industries in the world started to develop.

Eucalyptus forest in Brazil, by Celso Foelkel / Bosque de eucalipto en Brasil, por Celso Foelkel
- More than 4 billion Eucalyptus trees of over 150 species grow in the different climates of Brazil. Just a handful of them are prevalent but they have become a strategic timber resource of such a magnitude that whatever happens within this Eucalyptus Agricultural Superpower has a global impact.

Want to follow Andrade's footprints?

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To Ralph Mennuci Giesbrecht for his perseverance in the divulgation of history of Brazilian railroads, to Augusto Martini for his perserverance in the fight for preservation of Edmundo's legacy and to Celso Foelkel for his perserverance in the divulgation of Eucalyptus knowledge worldwide. And of course, to Edmundo, wherever he is, for daring. I heard the first thing he asked St. Peter to was "¿entao caro senhor, há algum horto ou jardim con eucaliptos no ceu?".

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© 2007 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.

1 Comments by our readers :::

Marcos Bento said...

Some of the eucalypts he planted in Rio Claro are among the tallest trees in Brazil, at 66 meters, almost one hundred years old. It is not a specially productive site, so there must be other eucalypts taller.
I've talked to forest harvest people from the pulp industry, they say one good site was misidentified as poor and left out to be harvested at age 13 (years). Trees there were already 50 meters tall.

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