Since planting its first eucalyptus seedlings in Uruguay three decades ago, UPM has grown into a major driver of local employment and entrepreneurship. The ripple effects travel far and wide.
The year 1988 is significant for Uruguay, as it marked the advent of the new forestry law and the beginning of sustainable forest industry in the South American country. Since then, forestry has become a vital part of Uruguay’s economy and a significant transformer of many people’s lives. This year, forestry products are forecast to be Uruguay’s top export, providing no fewer than 25,000 jobs.
One of the key players bringing about this transformation has been UPM, affirms Jussi Penttilä, Vice President of UPM’s Uruguay operations, “All of UPM’s activities in Uruguay are planned with a long-term view. At present, we employ 7,000 people throughout the value chain.
UPM’s plantation and wood sourcing company Forestal Oriental supplies wood from sustainably managed local eucalyptus plantations to the UPM Fray Bentos pulp mill. Two advanced nurseries ensure the availability of highly productive and locally adapted eucalyptus trees.
Fostering creative partnerships
UPM Forestal Oriental sources part of its pulp wood through its Fomento cooperation programme, which today includes 550 Uruguayan producers. In practice, Fomento offers local landowners the possibility to diversify their traditional production with cattle and agriculture through sustainable eucalyptus production using UPM’s high-quality seedlings.
One of these contract landowners is Eduardo Alvarez from Durazno in Central Uruguay. “Working with UPM provides stability. We are also able to respect the environment without harming the business. The experience has been excellent. Everything is done by the book,” he says.
Strong ties with local communities
In Uruguay, a majority of the industries and businesses and nearly half of the population are located in or around the capital of Montevideo. What makes UPM’s operations special is that they are located in rural areas where people have less access to training opportunities.
Founded in 2006, UPM Foundation works with local stakeholders and public institutes to develop rural communities through education, training and entrepreneurship.
Five-year safety streak
The UPM Fray Bentos mill, founded in 2007, is considered one of the world’s most efficient pulp mills, with annual production capacity of 1.3 million tonnes of eucalyptus pulp.
“Our mill is in great condition. People are motivated and we have good working practices. Everyone has a great attitude towards their work,” says Production Manager Martin Gutfraind.
Safety is the top priority in all of UPM’s operations. “Currently the mill is on an over five-year streak of no lost time accidents for our own employees at the site,” says Gutfraind.
Motivated experts and local talent
The company’s internal culture fosters continuous development. When construction of the Fray Bentos mill kicked off in 2004, there was a need to recruit engineers and mill workers with good basic skills. Today, these same people have evolved into sought-after professionals.
“Many mill technicians have advanced in their careers and they are now shift and day supervisors. Experts originally from the Fray Bentos mill are now working in UPM’s various activities all over the world,” says Penttilä.
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Text: Ella Navarro