The forest industry works in symbiosis with traditional forms of farming in Uruguay. The plantations offer income for agriculture, while the forest industry is expanding its planted areas with the support of farmers.
Cattle breeder and farmer Roberto Symonds has planted 150 hectares of eucalyptus on his farm since 2009. He sees the plantations as great way to supplement income from traditional farming.
“The planted forests provide shelter for the animals. Our plantations are mainly located in areas that are of little use for cattle breeding or farming. Diversification is another incentive, as the demand for wood is increasing, which raises the value of the plantations,” Symonds explains.
The Uruguayan Forestry Act was passed in 1987 to promote forestry through loans and financial support. Since the law was enacted, the area covered by plantations has been increasing at a steady pace. Plantations currently cover one million hectares, which accounts for approximately six per cent of agricultural land in Uruguay.
Symonds has planted both Eucalyptus grandis and Eucalyptus dunnii. He notes that the soil and climate in Uruguay are highly suitable for tree plantations.
“The significance of the eucalyptus plantations and the forest industry is constantly increasing, and not just for agriculture but also for the national economy as a whole. The plantations are definitely here to stay,” he adds.
Landowners in on the action
UPM has been co-operating with private landowners since 2005 within the framework of the FOMENTO Programme. Today, approximately one third of the plantations managed by UPM are located on privately owned lands.
“This is an important trend in many respects, as this co-operation improves social well-being and ensures that the benefits are shared with the local community. Furthermore, we are able to plant trees in areas to which we would otherwise have no access,” says Ricardo Methol from UPM.
Under the FOMENTO Programme, UPM Forestal Oriental supplies the tree seedlings and is responsible for planting and harvesting the trees later on.
“The contract covers two fellings performed in ten-year cycles to which UPM has right of first purchase. This is a profitable system for the producer, as it guarantees that they will be able to sell their produce at the market price,” Symonds explains.
“Co-operation with UPM has been very smooth so far, and we have been able to come to a good mutual compromise in all issues. Our plantations are also located relatively close to the mill, which gives us a significant advantage.”