Dear Tree Growers,
I am new in this Forum, but glad to know many people interested in growing trees, both for economic and environmental investments. There are queries if it pays to plant trees and what species should be most planted. I am not a forester but wish to share my inputs as a pulp and paper engineer. Sustainably-managed plantation forestry is now the backbone of responsible pulp and paper production in developed countries like US, Canada, Scandinavia, New Zealand and South Africa; and developing countries like Chile, Brazil, China, Thailand, and Indonesia. The Phils. is far behind in reforestation and development of industry-driven tree plantations. In our med- and long-term Roadmap submitted to DTI/BOI last year, the local paper industry proposed among others to upgrade from purely wastepaper-based industry to that which can
• meet our lack of local-sourced virgin pulp,
• enable local paper mills to produce high-value pulp and paper grades like specialty fine papers, liquid packaging, disposable sanitaries, and high-performance printing, packaging and tissue papers,
• make itself a harbinger of economic development, a catalyst for jobs generation in provincial areas, and stewards of sustainable forest resources.
To address these goals, it was recommended that the country should have its own forest-based paper pulp industry, specifically at least one pulpmill based on tree plantations and agro-forestry. The pulp and paper industry offers a large market for plantation pulpwood grown in industrial forest plantations, private tree farms, and community-based forestry. It can economically reward projects and programs that reforest our denuded lands. This industry is not so particular about log sizes and mechanical wood properties and can even scavenge plantation thinnings and logging wastes, either as pulpwood chips or fuel for its power plants.
The best species to plant for pulpwood are the fast-growing acacia mangium, eucalyptus, and gmelina because their cellulose pulps have good papermaking qualities, their pulp yield per ton wood is high, and their biomass harvest (wood density) per hectare planted is high. Falcata also yields good papermaking fiber but has low wood density, thus it can be grown primarily for lumber or pulped using high-yield technologies like semi-chemical or chemi-thermomechanical process (used in making coated printing paper and sanitary disposables).
The paper industry also regards tropical long-fiber wood species (like Benguet, Mindoro and Caribbean pines) highly valuable materials for strong pulp and paper.
I encourage you to intensify planting trees and go for the species mentioned above. Tree plantations for paper pulp do not have to be mono-culture. Wide areas of mangium cultivated for a pulpmill should be interspersed by a mosaic of mahogany or other species of the natural forest (diversity corridors for wildlife). Bagras/eucalypt plantations can be criss-crossed by patches or lines of gmelina and ipil-ipil (serving as windbreaks or firebreak). Smallholder tree farms can practice interplanting the mangium and bagras with coffee, abaca, and fruit-bearing trees. There is no single-specie holding exclusive choice as tree-planting material for reforestation; and it does not have to be mahogany only, esp. if one wants to harvest early. Five- to 6-year old trees of the abovementioned species are good enough for pulp and paper mills.
Lastly but not least, the pulp and paper industry by becoming an integral part of the country’s tree planting and forest perpetuation programs hopes to contribute significantly in reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that lead to global warming. The more plantation forests we establish and sustain in dynamic, productive manner, the more carbon dioxide we sequester back into the trees planted and grown continuously in dynamic cycles.