Rivera, Uruguay, Apr 7 (EFE).- A door in France and a window in Germany may be made of the wood of a single tree that grew from a seed planted decades ago in this city on Uruguay’s northern border with Brazil.
It was here in Rivera that the Urufor-Cofusa group, the giant of the Uruguayan lumber industry, implemented a pioneering genetic engineering program to enhance the quality and yield of the Eucalyptus grandis tree.
The conglomerate exports 30 percent of its output to the nations of the European Union, while 9 percent goes to the United Kingdom.
During a recent visit by EU ambassadors to the conglomerate’s nurseries in Rivera, Cofusa forestry manager Andres Gomez told Efe that genetics have made it possible to identify the best trees for reproduction and planting.
“We are probably not producing the largest quantity of cubic meters or tons per hectare (2.2 acres), but they are cubic meters of greater value and that’s also important,” he said.
And he stressed that Cofusa’s approach, which includes carbon-capture, contributes to sustainability.
“There are very few projects of this type in the world, in great part, because they involve great patience, since you had to have started more than 25 years earlier to see the results,” Gomez said.
Once harvested, the trees are taken to the sawmill for a process that includes infra-red scanning to determine the suitability of individual trunks for specific uses.
After declining during the Covid-19 pandemic, Uruguay’s revenue from lumber exports increased from $347 million in 2020 to $569 million last year.
And the sector received a boost in December when center-right President Luis Lacalle Pou vetoed a bill promoted by one of his coalition partners that would have reserved Uruguay’s most fertile soil for food crops. EFE rmp/dr