At the end of 2017, the EGGER Group made its first production commitment outside of Europe with the acquisition of an existing wood based panel plant in northern Argentina. Manufacturing both Particleboard and MDF, the plant utilises sustainable supplies of both hardwood and softwood trees, sourced from local fast-grown plantation forests.
To fully appreciate the scale of the forest industry within this part of South America, John Paterson and Mike Yerbury took the opportunity to visit southern Brazil earlier this year to attend a global timber harvesting and transportation conference, as well as visit one of the world’s largest forestry fairs: Expoforest.
With nearly 8m hectares of plantation forests, Brazil has become one of the leading global manufacturers of wood based products. With favourable climatic conditions, fertile soils and adequate rainfall, areas in the south and east of Brazil support growth rates of Eucalyptus species between 35-60m³ / ha / yr, presenting the processing industry with a wonderful opportunity of crop rotations as short as 6 – 7 years. Growth rates of Pine species is slower, and therefore the species covers a much smaller area than Eucalypt, but they are still able to get beyond 300m³/ha on a 15 year rotation!
Over the next 7-10 years, Brazil aspires to increase its forest plantations to 14m hectares which would help underpin continued development of the forest products sector within the country. Whilst these incredible growth rates present an attractive opportunity, the industry faces many challenges and needs to undergo a period of transition to adapt. Challenging bureaucracy, high energy and infrastructure costs, growing labour shortages and competition with a strong agricultural lobby will make achieving this target a real challenge. However, with increasing use of mechanised harvesting and innovations in transportation, and the use of new technologies such as satellite and drone imagery, Brazil has a wonderful opportunity to succeed in expanding this fibre resource.