The Myths and Truths of Eucalyptus

The myths and truths about eucalyptus began to appear in the 1960s and 1970s when reforestation did not yield the expected yield results.

Failure was due to many factors, including lack of scientific research on productivity, inadequate planning of land use being planted in rocky and humid lands, inadequate choice of species to be planted for each region of the country, use of inadequate implementation and use of fertilizers and failures in policy, legislation and supervision.

Adding all this to the lack of information and the little publicity of the press agencies encouraged the appearance of myths and lies about eucalyptus.

The first and most widely publicized is that eucalyptus dries the soil. This statement is false.

It retains less water than native forests with larger canopies, allows water to reach the ground faster because it has less foliage, which also reduces evaporation to the atmosphere, has a capacity to absorb more water in the rainy season and less drought, its roots do not exceed two and a half meters, so they do not reach the water table and consume much less water than a plantation of sugar cane, coffee, soy, rice, chicken and meat of ox.

Recent studies show that eucalyptus is very efficient in the use of water. While one liter produces 2.9 grams of wood, the same amount of water produces only 1.8 grams of sugar, 0.9 grams of wheat grains and 0.5 grams of bean grains.

The claim that eucalyptus impoverishes the soil is also false, since almost everything it removes it returns. After harvesting, bark, leaves and branches that have 70 percent of the tree's nutrients remain in the soil and are incorporated into the soil as organic matter, in addition to contributing to erosion control.

It is also common to hear that the eucalyptus generates a green desert. Affirmation also false. Due to having to leave part of the property area for legal reserve and permanent protection area, the eucalyptus and the sub-forests form a corridor for preservation areas and create a habitat for the fauna, offering conditions of shelter, food and even as shown by studies conducted by Klabin and Aracruz.

It is certain that they do not shelter a biodiversity as large as in the natural forests, but the proof is there: these animals were recorded in the planted forests of the company Ramires Reforestation in Mato Grosso do Sul.

Another false claim is that eucalyptus trees generate few social and economic benefits in municipalities. When properly managed, it generates benefits as well as another rural enterprise, starting with the large number of direct and indirect jobs that it generates both in nurseries and in the implantation and maintenance of forests. In addition, it generates taxes, investments in infrastructure, consumption of locally produced goods, promotion of various types of new businesses and initiatives in the social area such as the construction of houses, health posts and schools.

In addition to all this information, we should always remember that one hectare of eucalyptus consumes 10 tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year, contributing to the reduction of pollution, global warming and combating the greenhouse effect. In short, more than being a profitable and productive business, eucalyptus plantations have fulfilled their fundamental role of reducing pressure on native forests, still widely used in the consumption of charcoal, furniture and solid wood.

Source: Forest Panel


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