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.