No, forest plantations are not natural forests, but they protect them
Natural forests are home to most of the planet’s terrestrial biodiversity. The report The State of the World’s Forests 2020, prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) explains that because of its great importance, the conservation of the world’s biodiversity depends entirely on how we interact with the world’s forests and how we use them. they are the habitat of 80 percent of amphibian species, 75 percent of bird species and 68 percent of mammals.
On the other hand, the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 (FRA) , also carried out by FAO, indicates that forest plantations cover around 131 million hectares. This area represents 3 percent of the world’s forest area; and 45 percent of the total planted forest area.
In Nicaragua, agroforestry activity is incipient. According to the National Reforestation Association (Confor) there are approximately 35 thousand hectares that have been reforested for the use of forest plantations. However, according to a recent study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the country’s potential is up to 500 thousand hectares.
But what exactly is a forest plantation?
Enrique Trujillo, from the Colombian company El Semillero explains that a forest plantation consists of “the establishment of trees that make up a forest mass and that have a design, size and species defined to meet specific objectives such as productive plantation, energy source, protection of agricultural areas, protection of water mirrors, correction erosion problems, silvopastoral plantations, among others ”.
Therefore, as specified by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), “Native (or natural) forests are those that have not been significantly intervened by man; and planted forests (or forest plantations) are those that man has intervened with reforestation processes to the point of changing their structure and operation. Commonly, this type of forest is quite symmetrical: it has exact distances between the trees and it handles a maximum of two species, all of the same age ”.
Forest plantations contribute to the recovery of the environment
Although forest plantations are not natural forests, it can be said that it is an economic activity that is not only friendly to the environment; but by its very existence it helps to improve it.
According to the EFI English publication “Forest plantations in Europe: challenges and opportunities”: “In many regions, land use mosaics incorporating forest plantations are very effective in enhancing ecological integrity and addressing climate and environmental challenges. Forest plantations are often an important component of landscape-scale restoration; and they can put degraded lands back into production and improve the provision of ecosystem services ”.
“If managed well, forest plantations have the potential to sustainably supply a substantial proportion of the goods and services that society requires and thus allow other forest areas to be managed for conservation and protection purposes.”
Among the main advantages they present for protection we can list:
- They protect the biodiversity of the area and serve as biological corridors that help protection zones
- By generating wood for local and national consumption, they take pressure off protected areas as it reduces the market for buying wood from the forest for multiple wood applications.
- They generate various enterprises and industries that would increase the possibilities of work in the area.
- They fight desertification and improve the quality of water and rivers
- They significantly help to combat the greenhouse effect by fixing carbon dioxide, this helps not only the country but also protects from climate change, whose effects we suffer year after year and intensify, as we can see with Hurricanes becoming stronger and stronger.
- Enhance the landscape effect
The potential in Nicaragua
In Nicaragua, the 35 thousand hectares that these plantations occupy today were lands with degraded soils due to their use in other crops or for pastures. As this is an activity that requires a maturation period of up to 30 years, these soils are permanently protected by a tree cover that also encourages biodiversity and the recovery of water sources.
In addition to the environmental services provided by the supply of wood and other products from plantations to society, in the North Caribbean, for example, MLR Forestal is generating good jobs that help to remove pressure on the natural forest; They provide sustainable alternatives for consumption and economic growth in areas where, if this project did not exist, its inhabitants would not have alternatives for employment or for developing complementary economic activities. So there would be nothing to delay, or even stop, the advance of the agricultural frontier towards protected areas.
A forest plantation is not an agricultural crop
Given that a plantation can be considered a crop, and that its purpose is the export of agroforestry products, a differentiation must be made between the two, which is why the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation of Peru raises the following keys :
- Timber forest species are not domestic species, but wild, that is, even in plantations, they maintain the genetic capacity of being subjected to processes of speciation, hybridization, mutation, and others.
- Forest plantations are not production systems or annual harvests, nor do they have a marked seasonality. Rather, they depend on the quality of the site and the physiological characteristics of the species to adapt to the particular conditions of site quality of a given environment.
- Forest plantations do not require intensive tillage work; nor do they depend on the compost or fertilization of the soil (but on the natural adaptability of the species to the quality of the site).
- In forest plantations, genetic exchange can occur with other planted or natural specimens of the same species, as well as natural reproduction (regeneration, crossing, hybridization). Eucalyptus
Therefore, although forests and forest plantations are not exactly the same, forest plantation, in addition to being an economic activity that brings formal work and development to an impoverished area; it also has important contributions in favor of the environment. In areas such as the Northern Caribbean of Nicaragua, the economic activity of companies such as MLR Forestal should be encouraged so that they are increasingly effective in cushioning the advance of the agricultural frontier towards the core zone of Bosawás.