Friday, November 27, 2009

Six Groups of Profitable Native Tree Species

Native flowering Cocomono tree
One of the exciting aspects of tropical tree plantations in the Orinoco basin are the many native tree species that have commercial value and potential. These tropical trees can be divided into 6 basic groups that lend themselves to profitable commercialization. In the case of Amazonia Reforestation, commercialization means collecting seeds from many of these native tree species, some of which are endangered, and discovering the best way to germinate them, how to sprout them in tree nurseries, how to prepare the soil for them, and when the best times to transplant them are. Some groups, like the world renowned Omacha Foundation, have already been experimenting with some of these issues, and Amazonia Reforestation is proud to be partnered with them as we establish our own natural reserve for the conservation and preservation of these wonderful native tree species. So what are the 6 groups?

Harvesting native Saladillo tree
The first group are those trees that can provide sawn lumber for both light and heavy construction, and for wood products like flooring, decking, plywood, crates and other common uses. The second group are those that are of such fine quality and grain that they are ideal for fine furniture, cabinetry and instrument making. The third group are those tropical trees that provide chips or pulp for paper and cardboard, excelsoir (packaging material), fibreboards, cement boards and similar uses. The fourth group are tropical trees that have a high calorific value, making them ideal for charcoal, briquets, and home heating and cooking. The fifth group are tropical trees that provide human food like fruits, nuts, seeds or saps, or fodder for animals, and which have local uses such as arts and crafts, tannin for curing leather, pigments, roofing materials (palms leaves etc.), dugout or canoe materials, and more. The sixth and final group are those tropical trees that offer natural, ayurvedic, naturopathic and aboriginal medicines, fragrances, insecticides, soaps and oils. All of the many diverse species in the Orinoco river basin have one thing in common, they support an amazing variety of endangered and other wildlife, birds (both local and migratory), insects, reptiles and amphibians.

Transition from Savannah to Gallery forest
Many of these tropical tree species are extremely fast growing (10 to 15 years to maturity), making them very attractive for commercial use. They provide additional benefits, because they are already adapted to poor soil conditions, nutrient depletion and high soil water content. They occur in both gallery forests found between the savannah and the riparian flooded forest or inundation forest, and the latter. Gallery and inundation forests are common to the Orinoco and its tributaries, like the Meta and the Rio el Bita. Sustainable and profitable socio-economic development must therefore include conservation, preservation and expansion of these forests, something our entire family is dedicated to achieving. Using native tree species in our afforestation and reforestation efforts will have a huge impact on local and migratory wildlife and birds, and can provide an essential gene pool for the future bio-diversity of our planet, which is rapidly diminishing due to mono-culture agro forestry practised in many other locations.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Key Land Factors for Tropical Tree Plantations

Typical tropical savannah land
Last posting, I discussed the 3 key climate factors for tropical tree plantations. This time I want to comment on the 3 key land and soil factors affecting tropical tree plantations. In the tropics there is a wide variety of vegetation specific to different land types. By far the largest tropical vegetation area is savannah (42%), followed by rain forest (30%), semideciduous and deciduous woodland (15%), and finally desert areas (13%), with desert shrub and grasses or even with no vegetation. These numbers are changing as deforestation continues unabated and deserts are growing. From a plantation perspective the ideal areas for afforestation and reforestation programs are savannah, because of reliable rainfall and ease of access. Amazonia Reforestation is doing extensive planting in the savannah areas of the llano oriental or eastern plains of Colombia.

Lush rain forest but poor soil
Despite the lush and profuse vegetation found in most rain forests, that abundance is not an indication of high soil fertility. In fact, most rain forest soils are infertile, but the forest itself  has evolved to make extremely efficient use of nutrients by recycling everything, thanks to rapid decay and absorption of litter, dead fall, old leaves, fallen fruits and nuts, and atmospheric sequestration of gases like CO2 and nitrogen. This is why deforerstation for subsistence farming and ranching has produced such poor results, with crops failing within a couple of years of clearing the rain forest, and ranching producing eually poor results because of the low nutrient value of grasses that have replaced the rain forest.  In contrast, poorly vegetated savannah often has superior soil fertility. Only 7% of the soil types found in the Amazon basin have agricultural potential. CO2 Tropical Trees plants in savannah areas with superior carbon sequestration potential, as part of their "Make your car carbon neutral campaign!"

Tropical tree planting in the savannah
Tropical tree plantations also favor savannah and steppe areas, because the cost of land is lower in those locations. The majority of the world's unused but potentially arable land is in tropial savannah and semidesert areas. Since these areas generally correspond with countries in development, they suffer from under-use or inefficient use, or from environmentally bad use, such as mono-cultures of oil palms. Tree farms see these areas as having great potential for timber by making improved use of the land and by implementing modern forestry practices and environmentally sound  programs. Amazonia Reforestation, for instance, is active in planting native tree species for conservation and preservation of endangered wildlife. This goes hand in hand with the final reason why tropical tree plantations like these areas. They have human populations that require the resources for economic and social development, something that afforestation and reforestation programs offer.