Eucalyptus

The facts regarding growing Eucalyptus as a commercial crop

Whenever I post photos of Eucalyptus timber being harvested on social media I am instantly attacked by the anti-forestry brigade and tree huggers.

Persil’s latest TV advert suggesting to everyone logging is bad doesn’t help and I have witnessed similar items where we are blamed for everything wrong in the world including global warming where in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

I find this ignorant attitude very upsetting as nothing could be further from the truth. We do our utmost by working alongside nature to protect our wildlife and take care of the environment.

I have been privileged to have worked throughout the UK, Europe and North America and from what I have seen they have all been carrying out well managed, responsible, sustainable forestry using trained skilled workers.

I try to be responsible on social media showing photos and videos of skilled professionals at work . I show some photos of the old growth trees being felled, it is sad that so many have gone now but that was in a bygone era who had far less forestry knowledge than we have today.

It would be interesting if all logging stopped tomorrow, there would no more using forests for public recreation as footpaths, cycle tracks etc would soon become overgrown and unsafe to use. The profits landowners receive from timber harvesting pays for the upkeep of footpaths cycle tracks, horse riding routes etc.

Without this wildlife would be at risk as forests would be extremely vulnerable to fires. Dead and dying debris/trees are removed during thinning and these act as fire ladders which allows fire to climb from the forest floor to the tree crowns which then becomes difficult to contain

Fire fighters progress in combating fires becomes slower and much more hazardous as gaining access to fire hotspots through overgrown forests is extremely difficult

We can’t undo what has been done in the past but if we learn from our logging ancestors mistakes and evolve by adopting much better forestry management then it wasn’t in vain.

Below are some interesting facts on harvesting Eucalyptus timber in Brazil, unfortunately some others will never listen to our point of view or be open minded to the many benefits of well managed, sustainable forestry systems.

Brazil’s agribusiness is imposing itself before the world in the production of food and raw materials, from the crops and the breeding of animals. But perhaps no sector today is as strategic in terms of environmental composition and profitability as that of planted eucalyptus forests.  In the scenario of forest plantations for commercial purposes, Brazil shows to be a privileged environment.   The results achieved with eucalyptus impress all investors, being the species that presents the best cost-benefit ratio in terms of growth time for commercial use and the extent of use. That’s why this species is an extraordinary wild card, providing everything from cellulose and paper, charcoal, wood to various industries, including furniture, and power generation.

Unlike other activities, forestry is self-sustaining, that is, annual gains from the evolution of genetic materials, Agro-cultural treatments and environmental protection areas guarantee successive harvests with increase in productivity up to or over 50m³ / ha / year and sustainability throughout the other forest cycles. Brazil has the most modern technologies for forests plantation, with emphasis on planting and managing of eucalyptus.

Brazil has a total land area of 851 million hectares of which 30% has been destined for commercial forestry production. This market has a lot of room to grow since at present only 1% of this total land area is currently under commercial use. Brazil is a country that has many factors that are favourable to forestry, such as fertile soils and climate conditions suitable for the cultivation of several species of Eucalyptus of commercial value. Complementing these conditions, there is also continuous emphasis from both governmental and private sector efforts in the development of state-of-the-art technology with proven results. Lastly, there are very few countries that have the land area availability and necessary manpower for this type of extensive development.

Brazil is now the world’s top producer and exporter of eucalyptus wood and pulp. Its uses by local industry are myriad—Eucalyptus wood is in heavy demand from the iron, pulp and paper industries. A positive secondary effect of the species’ popularity and adaptability is the preservation of native forests.

Each hectare of planted Eucalyptus forest preserves about ten hectares of native forests. This means that the forest sector is the custodian of more than 1.5 million hectares of natural reserves, and planted forests also guarantee the balance of biodiversity for native reserves. Planted forests protect native forests, improve air quality, and reduce thermal amplitude.

Forest planting activities stand out for sustainability by offering the market renewable wood, which fights the illegal consumption of wood from native forests. These projects are licensed and certified in compliance with the current Forest Code, which also provides for the protection and recovery of permanent preservation areas.

Carbon sequestration is a process of removal of carbon dioxide. This process occurs mainly in oceans, forests and other organisms that, through photosynthesis, capture carbon and release oxygen into the atmosphere. It is the capture and safe storage of carbon dioxide (CO2), thus avoiding its emission and permanence in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The concept of carbon sequestration was endorsed by the Kyoto Conference in 1997. This was to contain and reverse the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere with a view to reducing the greenhouse effect.

Brazil has the best physical and natural conditions to meet the requirements of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Due to its forestry potential, such as high land, abundant labour, favourable climate, advanced silvicultural technology and a competent forestry administration.

The world needs more and more wood and carbon credit. Brazil is the country with the greatest potential to deliver all of this under a balanced and sustainable approach.

“Eucalyptus plantations in Brazil are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. It typically produces more than 40 m3/ha/yr of wood,” according to Brazil Eucalyptus Potential Productivity (BEPP), a cooperative research project of the University of Sao Paulo ESALQ, Colorado State University, the Rocky Mountain Research Station of the USDA Forest Service and six forest companies: VCP, International Paper, Veracel, Bahia Sul Cellulose, Copener Florestal and Aracruz. “The world-record rates of production are sustained by intensive silviculture, including genetic selection of superior trees, clonal propagation, intensive site preparation, and fertilization.”

Crop rotation is just seven years with the trees harvested when they are around 30m high

Uses

WOOD PULP

Represents the most widespread industrial application of Eucalyptus wood. The tree’s white fibre makes it less expensive to process and ideal for the wood pulp industry. A new pulp mill is planned within the region that we target.

CHARCOAL

The market for charcoal from Eucalyptus is primarily for the steel industry. 40% of the Brazilian Eucalyptus planted is designated for this market.

BIOMASS

Biomass is the new growth market for fast-growing trees. A typical electric generation plant will consume 3 million tons of bio-mass annually.

WOOD PRODUCTS

Several new MDF and wood products facilities are opening in Brazil, including a new facility, which processes 180,000 tons of Eucalyptus per year which is increasing employment.

Forest Machine Magazine is written and edited by a forest professional with over 40 years hands on experience. We are dedicated to keeping you informed with all the latest news, views and reviews from our industry.

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