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FEATURE STORY

Argentina invests in research to get sustainable wood in Misiones’ forest

January 24, 2013

Investigación sobre el manejo sustentable de las plantaciones forestales.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two researchers conduct projects to achieve sustainable management of forest plantations
  • The experts also study the links between native forest and exotic species
  • Misiones is one of the provinces with major biodiversity in the country

The forest of Misiones is a unique place in Argentina. Land of myths and legends like El Pombero, Yasi Yateré or Caa Yari, and where mate comes from, occupies about 50% of the area of the and it is one of the regions with major biodiversity in the country, with more than 1,500 species of mammals (such as the jaguar), over 500 species of birds and more than 300 fish.

But this natural paradise has a dangerous enemy: deforestation.

It is in this habitat where Hugo Fassola and Gustavo Zurita are researching about the sustainable management of forest plantations. Both are winners from the Applied Research Projects (PIA), organized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, with support from the World Bank.

The aim of the initiative is to develop knowledge and technology applied to the sustainable production of quality wood. The 52 projects selected, covering issues of forestry, bioenergy and climate change, among others, are being implemented in Mesopotamia, Chaco, Pampa, Patagonia, the Northwest and the province of Mendoza.

Zurita is a biologist specialized in ecology. As part of the National University of Misiones, he’s been studying for a year about how native biodiversity contributes to forest plantations.

"The native forest provides services such as the generation of nutrients and decomposing organisms, which are used by forest plantations. This leads us to value biodiversity not only by itself, but also for the functions it performs" explains Zurita.

During the investigation, samplings are taken in different distances between forests and plantations, to measure humidity, soil temperature and composition of litter, for example. "All this serves to define what functions of biodiversity assist the forest plantation productivity," says Zurita.

Open Quotes

The native forest provides services such as the generation of nutrients and decomposing organisms, which are used by forest plantations. This leads us to value biodiversity not only by itself, but also for the functions it performs. Close Quotes

Gustavo Zurita
Biologist specialized in ecology

Produce and conserve

Production and conservation can be compatible. In certain cases, for example, a portion of forest less dense (thinned) can produce wood with larger diameters (and higher commercial value) and simultaneously generate more favorable conditions for large mammals.

Meanwhile, Hugo Fassola, a forest engineer, seeks to optimize the use of wood from forest plantations. "My job is to assist producers to make a better management, to evaluate the quality of the wood and to know how their product performs in the industry," says Fassola.

As part of the project, he conducted a series of tests to the tree as a whole, to the log and to the board to determine the quality of the wood and, therefore, to improve its marketing.

In Argentina, forest areas reach 34 million hectares, of which 97% are native forests. The remainder relates to plantations, mostly of pine and eucalyptus, which are mainly located in the Mesopotamian region.