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