Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Baby trees, search for the cures

There is something special about looking across a field of 20 million tree seedlings. The vibe is obviously present in the 160 hectare nursery located just outside of Yumbel, in Region 8.  The magic of millions of trees growing side by side under detailed care by the hundreds of people that work to maintain high quality plants.  The energy of a nursery stems from the excitement of making growth. The detailed procedures that are conducted to produce the best results are critical to the survival and growth potential of  the millions of trees that are planted for Forestal Mininco´s plantations.  

The Carlos Douglas Vivero (Nursery), is where the baby trees come to life. They are the livelihood and sustainability of forestry for all of the company´s plantations in Chile. The nursery produces approximately 40 million seedlings annually! They use various techniques to produce these trees that will be planted throughout the country. The majority of their products are radiata pine, eucalyptus globulus, and eucalyptus nitens.  They also have a smaller stock on native plant species to contribute to local community projects and gardens.  The many acres and seed beds are rotated and closely managed for high quality and successful establishment.  Some fields are managed to produce sillage for organic matter.  This material is critical to the nutritional capacity of the soil matter.
The trees are established through a variety of methods, firstly through seeds or cuttings.  These come from mother plants grown on site or at the bio laboratory.  They can be in the form of plugs, with soil, or bareroot, grown in ground.  The pine seedlings gain sufficient growth in 8-12 months.  They are graded and groomed to a certain height and diameter.  The eucalyptus seedlings grow much faster and are ready after 6 months.  They are exclusively grown from seeds whereas other hybrid species are from cuttings.  They are planted in coconut fibers for further plant enhancement.

The nursery is managed by Forestal Mininco and work is conducted by over 300 contracted workers.  A workforce mostly of women, do the daily tasks of planting, sorting, moving, cutting, packaging, etc of maintaining the trees. The busy season starts up in April and May as colder weather sits in in Chile.  The packaging and transport of seedlings can last well in September depending on the weather patterns.  As the older seedlings leave the new sowing can begin as the space is freed up.  It is a constant rotation and shuffling of space and storage.

The nursery works closely with the tree improvement research conducted by Forestal Mininco researchers and labs.  Their goal is to improve the growth potential, tree form, and wood properties.  This project was started as a cooperative program in Chile in order to find the best genetic material among forest plantations.  They have improve volume gains 35% in the last 40 years.  The mission of plantations are to produce as fast as possible high quality and successful plantations.

The Carlos Douglas Nursery is an FSC, Forest Stewardship Council, certified operation. As a critical link in the CMPC production chain, the nursery follows certain procedures to ensure that their operation aligns with the guidelines required with this certification. In particular, it limits the use of chemicals that would otherwise limit weeds in bareroot production.  This leads to greater labor cost because it is instead done by hand.  The certification also encorporates strong engagement in the social issues for workers and surrounding communities.  While water use was not mentioned as a guideline for certification, the nursery is limited to water for its cost and amount aloud by the government.  The nursery monitors all water entering and exiting the system to maintain minimal impact on surrounding systems.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Out with Area Engineers

Last week I spent the day with Area Manager Richard Frit, of the Mulchen region.  The day varied with discussions surrounding eucalyptus chip processing to rock pit possibilities.  The group included the area engineer, road manager, contract operations boss, feller buncher operator, transportaion manager, and a few others with additional perspectives in the operations. 
Native forest and
plantation soft boundary,
observed for remediation

First order of discussion included harvest area boundaries and landing locations.  The main concern was that native trees were included in the boundary.  However part of the objective for harvest units adjacent to native forest reserves is to remove the exotic species.  A small portion of native forests can be cut but may be made up in community projects or restoration mediation.  Additionally, the landing locations was revised based on native forest densities and slope. The majority of the harvest plans are created based on LiDAR and images in the officer prior to on the ground verification.  Furthermore, the feller buncher operator pointed out locations were a cable winching system was needed because of the slope changes.  Several hectares of prime eucalyptus was barely out of reach and needs to be recovered prior to reforestation.  They were tricky spots adjacent to native forests, public road, and slope changes.  The group was able to identify a plan of action for the additional transport and cable harvesting systems needed to complete the harvest areas.

We also got to take a look at the eucalyptus harvesting system.  On relatively flat terrain a feller buncher and grapple skidder were bringing in eucalyptus to the landing for chipping.  The chipper or astillador processed the entire logs directly into the chip truck.  The 30 ton truck is filled with fresh chips in approximately 20 minutes. This product goes to pulp or biomass mills. This particular landing was seeing about 34 trucks per shift, or 60 per day.  The haul is 4 hour on mostly dirt and gravel roads where speed is limited in the community adjacency zones.

Roads foreman observing rock pit opportunities

15 year old Eucalyptus trees

Friday, February 19, 2016

Operations in Chile

Working in the timber industry in Chile, has been fascinating. Forestal Mininco, a component of CMPC, is the second largest timber company in Chile.   Their influence on communities and local economies is significant to southern regions. 

I can say that my Oregon State University education has prepared me very well to discuss similar harvesting systems, plantation regimes, and landscape management.  They are not so far off from what I have experienced in my work in Oregon and British Columbia.  Steep slope harvesting, road placement, negative public perception, and indigenous conflicts are consistent topics throughout my experiences on both continents.

What I find most noticeable is that Chile’s developed industry is relatively new.  It was just in the last forty years that the forestry sector looked similar to how it operates today. Furthermore, the conflicts between indigenous peoples and landownership continue to significantly influence harvesting operations through acts of property destruction. 

The forestry sector is a dynamic resource that the world relies on for an incredible amount of products. Chile is a country that provides a significant portion of pulp products and sawlogs worldwide.  I have gotten an inside look at the harvesting operations process in the private industry.

While the coolest pictures are of the operations in action, most of my days are spent meeting with all those involved in running the show. I am familiar with the optimization and heuristic programs professionals utilize daily to most efficiently produce wood products.  I learn the complex transport system that runs over 1,200 loads daily and 600 nightly.  I recognize the planning that goes into assigning hundreds of contract companies to harvest schedules.  Then I understand the negotiations that go into product sales to the mills based on the capacities of the composition of the plantations. 

I have to say it has been a fun ride to understand a small piece of the organization CMPC and Forestal Mininco.

Santiago Exploring

I had the pleasure to explore Santiago, the capital of Chile and its largest city this last weekend.  My friend Bailey acted as an excellent tour guide even being new to the city.  The funny thing about traveling is that some of converstations you have with strangers can be more meaningful or deeper than those acquainences you´ve had for years. It is always a pleasant reminder that good people are found throughout the world. 

Bailey and I met at a the 2015 National SAF Conference in Baton Rouge.  We are both in the forestry fields from opposite sides of the United States who both happened to be in Chile this year.  And so of course walking around the city we both have to wonder and compare notes on the trees we see in the many green spaces in the city.

We spent two days wandering the streets and barrios of Santiago. It a vibrant city with great food, interesting people, and colorful sites! 

Lunch at La Vega market, known for its fresh seafood
We met a nice couple at the neighboring table.

La Vega market

El cerro de Santa Lucía
El barrio de Barzil, well known for their street art
Barrio de Brasil, Sebastian y Bailey

Why not eat Peruvian food in Chile...
Danced salsa all night long at Salsateca, Klub Managosta!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Intro to the Vida Chilena

Alas, my current international and forestry experience brings me to South America and the beautiful country of Chile.  For three months I will be working or a 'practica' with Forestal Mininco, a component of the parent company CMPC.

My journey took over 30 hours to reach Los Angeles, Chile from Portland, Oregon. Two planes, three stops, two bus rides, and a car ride at both ends I made it to my new home.

I'd have to say the combination of the time difference and instant season change is quite shocking to the system.  The time difference is 5 hours different from Pacific Coast Time zone. And we are in summer in the southern hemisphere!

Los Angeles, Chile
Population: approximately 200,000, with enough grocery stores to find gluten free bread and decent coffee.
The town is about 7 hours in bus south of Santiago. Los Angeles is on the edge of being considered Southern Chile in the Bio Bio Valley. It is surrounded by a fertile valley of mostly wheat and grain crops. Pine and eucalyptus plantations are not found very far out of town.  It is a busy industrial town with the typical components: main plaza, movie theater, many taxis, buses, a few churches, and a busy market place.

My gracious host is Teresa. I am renting the room her daughters used to share. Teresa works for the city and is an artesian, mostly of wool products. There are two other young women renting rooms.

Buenas Vistas
Los Saltso de Lajas

Pollo con papas fritas. Chicken and fries

Horse and carriage tour around country property

Cascada, Waterfall not seen by the public

CMPC: Forestal Mininco

CMPC is an integrated organization composed of four components: forest, paper, tissue, and pulp products. And integrated company means that they own all of the links of the process to produce a product, in this case various wood products.

CMPC has forest lands and factories throughout Central and South America that sell to markets across the world. Forestal Mininco is the forest management division within CMPC. The 500,000 hectares of forest plantations in Chile are composed mostly of radiata pine and eucalyptus to produce a multitude of products ranging from pulp and paper to sawlogs and plywood. The regions are separated in to patrimonios and into smaller areas called fundos which are composed of stands or rodales. Annually Forestal Mininco produces 5 million cubic meters of wood products and plants over 20 million trees in radiata pine trees alone!

The focus of my work with Forestal Mininco includes improving the recuperation of value in the silviculture and operations systems of radiata pine.
Radiata pine can produce many more economically valuable products such as plywood, sawlogs, and plywood.  Do you know what a peeler log is? Check out this link!  This video shows part of the process of making plywood.

La cosecha y el manejo en general - Harvest and Management Practices
Intense management of radiata pine plantations in southern Chile produces quality sawlog and peeler products. In general the pine trees are planted on prepared soil with added nutrients and treated once initially with herbicides to control competing vegetation. Pruning occurs up to three times beginning as early as four years after planting. Thinning the initial density of approximately 1.200 trees per hectare occurs up to two times before final harvest with a final density around 400-500 trees per hectare after about 24 years of growth. The stand silvicultural treatments depend on the soil type, growing conditions, and water availability.

The practices are highly analyzed and tested in order to incorporate the highest producing management schemes by the research and development teams. Variation in density, thinning schedules, and pruning grades produce different outcomes depending on the desired outcome. The objective of the current projects surrounds high grade peeler logs of radiata pine.