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Friendly Forest Products
Visiting a Cedar Plantation
Many of our clients as we do would like to protect the rain forests and leave a legacy of both beauty and bounty for children. We are continually searching for sources of sustain yield lumber. I was fortunate to have visited a Cedar Plantation on my last trip abroad. What a pleasant surprise.
On these forays I never know what to expect. This one began with a short private plane ride into Guatemala. We were going to see some trees (not usually a good sign) and a saw mill. We landed in a small town to clear customs before venturing deep into the interior of the country. These days one never knows what to expect in these marginally stable countries. Although I have many found memories of Guatemala I am always wary. The little military airport became another entertaining experience. The soldiers, customs and drug enforcement all greeted us pleasantly and cordially as we did them. We were waiting for the immigration lady when by phone we learned that if we did not care about a stamp in our passports we could just go rather than be delayed longer. I personally do not collect stamps in my passport. Off we went.
Further into the mountains now we were circling another small town and what looked like a football (soccer) field. OOPS! That's the landing strip. Good thing Jorge is an accomplished pilot. Once again another group of soldiers greeted us and so did our 4X4. The day now was waning so we sought a hotel. In many Latin countries the exterior of a building often hides unexpected treasures. As did this hotel, it was a water park resort complete with slide and an extreme bicycle course. Wow! as the night wore on we got to know each other over a bottle of Johnny Walker Black and had an enjoyable story filled evening.
When traveling I am typically a very early riser and this morning was no exception. I slipped out of our dormitory style room in search of what else, coffee. After all we were in the heart of the Guatemalan coffee growing region and it was my duty to test several cups of cafe con leche. It was excellent! As dawn turned to morning slowly the my companions appeared in the restaurant. A few eggs later we learned Hans was coming to meet us and give us a personal tour of the plantation. My hosts Jorge and Peter joked with each other about this turn of events. You see Hans carved this plantation out of the most inaccessible reaches of these mountains over 50 years ago. Now at 87 he still likes to talk up a storm, but he inter mixes his Spanish, English and German into the same conversation. Good thing I told him I did not speak French.
cedar was planted some 37 years ago to shade his coffee. The trees
varied greatly in diameter and height. The diameter ranged from one
foot to three plus feet and the height. from 15 feet to 50 feet to
the first branch. I learned something very interesting about cedar
from Hans. The bark of the tree actually goes through a transformation
from smooth to rough as the tree matures. I could see what examples
of what he was describing as we traversed a small part of the farm.
The size of the tree did not seem to be the determining factor either.
Some one foot diameter trees had a course bark and some two foot
diameter trees had a rough bark. I we could only cut some up we could
truly verify Hans' theory.
As a lumber buyer I really like to get to the nitty gritty, logs and saw mills. Peter played a little joke on me as he showed me this saw mill on the the finca. And believe me I have been taken to mills like this as a serious display of ability and commitment to get the job done.
It was fantastic and encouraging to visit this plantation. We need
more long term commitment like this to reduce the pressure on our
natural forests and keep us and our businesses supplied with material
that will also ensure our survival.
We have Plantation Spanish Cedar (cedrela spp.) for sale!!!!!