The Basque Country has a great variety of coniferous tree species. They grow very well, although with the problem of the "band" disease, the disappearance of the radiata pine accelerated and now it is not the preferred variety for owners when it comes to planting, according to Alejandro Cantero, a technician from the Hazi foundation, in the course on the possibilities of coniferous tree plantations today.
The serious crisis experienced in 2018 forced many owners to cut down their trees when they saw them dry. Others, those who had healthy pine trees, have been afraid and have accelerated the felling. Consequence: "Cutting a lot and planting less”. NO environmental critics have intervened, as they did against the radiata pine in the 80s when it has been demonstrated that it does not damage the soil and is not an enemy species.
Alejandro Cantero was blunt: "The only machine that humans have to capture CO2 is replanting forests. The only thing that effectively fixes it is wood and soil. If you cut down that pine forest and use its wood for a durable good such as construction, the carbon is still fixed in that wooden construction. It is replanted and CO2 is captured again".
The forests in the Basque Country are among the most productive in Europe. There are many forests where there is plenty of rainfall, with a pleasant temperature that allows one of the highest growth rates in cubic metres on the continent. “We are a small territory but we can contribute a lot in the fight against climate change".
In Europe in recent years, they have lost the habit of cutting timber. They dedicated the forests to recreation and continued to grow until they became catastrophes. Windthrow by wind, death of species... they stop capturing. When the forest grows to a certain level it ceases to be productive, if with good forest management you cut a level of wood you can close the cycle. Use the wood and replant and continue capturing carbon. The forest will continue to grow and you will reduce the risks. Trees that are not so tall are protected from certain pests because they are young and are regenerating. In short, younger forests.
Now in Central Europe the situation is much worse than it was in 2018. For years the forests have been attacked by "esolitides" which are killing the fir trees. Millions and millions of fir trees are drying out and need to be recovered through more active forest management. The origin seems to be climate change. "You can't leave forests for recreation and landscaping because forests are not just a church that you visit.
As in other things European policy the European Green Pact forgot about forests and concentrated on reducing emissions. Over time they have realised this and now have a line to avoid deforestation and to avoid importing non-European products that lead to deforestation, such as palm oil and soya, if they are not certified as sustainable from their origin; they have also turned their attention to active management of Europe's own forests. "Cutting wood and managing forests is the best way to reduce global warming".
In Latin America it is purely economic calculations that are determining the planting of palm oil, soya or eucalyptus. Alejandro Cantero did not overlook the many tree plantations that some companies are promoting out of a purely advertising spirit (greenwashing). They are NOT planting the species that can fix the most carbon, but rather beautiful species such as oaks or ash trees that are later abandoned, the weeds grow and eat them. If they want to be effective, there has to be a balance between native species, carbon capturing and with the capacity to defend themselves from the undergrowth. Do a good study and don't go out in the press planting trees.
The sector has a great future in the Basque Country, and others would like to have the productivity we have here, the vigilance and the desire to try new things. "After the slap in the face of 2018, I think the sector has recovered its strength and spirit. The problem is that it is ageing. A generational change is needed.
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