Forests of the Czech Republic

Authors:  Josef Cafourek,  Martin Smola and  Josef Støítecký
Czech participation in the Project 3F - FOREST FOR FUTURE

The project 3F – FOREST FOR FUTURE is a forest project in Columbia, Department of Córdoba, the objective of which is to reforest ca. 15 000 ha of deforested land. Holder and coordinator of the Project is private company Grupo Kanguroid Ltd.

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Localization of the 3F-Project

Project 3F is situated in the department of Córdoba with an area of 2 507 000 ha, 28 municipalities, 311 administrative units and 1 275 623 inhabitants. About 48% of inhabitants live in the municipalities, 52% in the remaining area. Capital town of the department is Montería. The department has 165 km of Caribbean Sea coast, 100 000 ha of permanent swamps and 1 220 km of watercourses. The largest river is Sinú, flowing through a valley (basin) of the same name, which begins on the margin of the Paramillo National Park in Tierr Alta and ends in the river mouth in the creek of Cispata. Another important river in the region is Río San Jorge, a tributary of the Rio Grande de la Magdalena River.

The northern part of the department consists of flatlands and plains with annual precipitation of 800-1200 mm, which ranks the region in the zone of dry tropical forests. The southern part of the department is more articulated, with elevations ranging from 2 to 300 m above sea level and maximum annual precipitation amounting to 1 890 mm. Humid tropical forests occur in the territory of the Paramillo National Park whose area is about 400 000 ha and which consists of natural forests. Mean annual temperature in the department amounts to 27 °C.

The Córdoba Department can be characterized as an agri-industrial region. Main activities are extensive rearing of cattle breeds that are certified as stocks without the incidence of  foot disease and have a high export potential (ca. 1 800 000 heads). Important in the region is also the growing of maize, cotton and sorghum and a small-scale production of tropical fruits such as mango and papaya.

Genesis of the 3F-Project

The Project 3F-FOREST FOR FUTURE had been chosen as a pilot project for Macroproyecto Forestal Piloto de Córdoba within the framework of promotion to producer chains (cadenas forestales) in the field of forestry and timber-processing industry under competence of the Ministry of Agriculture of Columbia. Five subregions (nucleos forestales) were selected in the Córdoba department according to the CONIF (Corporación Nacional de Investigación y Fomento Forestal – National Association for research and support to forestry in Columbia) methodology, with conditions favourable for the development of forestry and the linking producer chain. The Project dwells on the situation with the low supply of tropical tree species suitable for furniture and construction sectors both on domestic and international markets, making use of geobiocoenological and climatic advantages of the region (Córdoba). The main objective is to establish plantations of the original and introduced tropical tree species.

To support the pilot project, two following governmental programmes had been selected by the Ministry of Agriculture at national level that were implemented into the Project:

1.    Testing of advanced foreign technologies enabling the establishment and growing of forests

In order to save time at the stage of technology development and to eliminate improvisation, Biocaribe company carried out analysis of various forest technology systems available worldwide that would be suitable for use in the development of expected activities. Thanks to its 300-year tradition in forest management and advanced forest technologies, a patron chosen for the cooperation was the Czech Republic.

2.    Building of forest nurseries and their transformation into automated large-scale nurseries enabling a mass production of planting stock (so-called biofactories)

Forest nurseries represent the most rapidly developing link in the Columbian chain of forest producers. In cooperation with CONIF the Ministry of Agriculture had selected three nurseries that were included in the programme of transformation to so-called biofactories according to Brazilian model. It is a complex of forest nursery adaptations from the selection of the planting stock of superb genetic quality in the region, establishment of clone archives up to the automation of works in the nursery.

Apart from the above-mentioned Columbian partners, other participants in the Project are the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Córdoba, COMFORE (Cooperativa Colombiana de Mejoramiento Genético Forestal), CVS (Corporación Autónoma Regional de los Valles del Sinú del san Jorge), and URRA S.A. (corporation operating the Urrá hydroelectric power plant).

A short excursion into the history of Czech attendance in the 3F-Project

The attendance of Czech forest experts in the pilot project 3F was made possible namely thanks to the Agreement on international cooperation in the field of agriculture, signed at the ministerial level by Columbia and the Czech Republic in February 2002. During the mission of forest experts from MZLU Brno (MZLU Training Forest Enterprise Krtiny) to Columbia in May 2002, a protocol was signed on international cooperation in the pilot project Macroproyecto Forestal Piloto de Córdoba, in which the areas of cooperation between the participating entities were specified. These fields of cooperation concerned the pilot project within the framework of which the first 40 hectares were to be reforested nearby the Urrá dam reservoir in the Córdoba department with a prospect of project extension up to 2 000 ha.

In 1998, a project of the Czech Ministry of Agriculture was launched that was financed from the governmental funds for development aid in foreign countries and focused on cooperation with the countries of Latin and Central America. The Project "Reforestation of the Andes with the use of containerized Patrik transplants" was focused on the growing of tree species whose potential is being continually reduced in natural forests due to extensive forest management methods. Main objective was to bring autochthonous species back to newly reconstructed ecosystems. A part of the plan was also the assistance to local foresters who had been facing obstacles that they had not been able to resolve. The goal of the artificial forest regeneration was intensive growing for quality and better economic use of wood raw material as well as improvement of degraded land properties. Another goal was to positively affect water management in the regions and to enhance social and living conditions of rural population. The Project passed later under coordination of the state enterprise Forests of the Czech Republic.

In June 2002, a framework agreement was concluded with the Kanguroid Company on cooperation in the field of forest management planning and information technologies. Participants for the Czech party were ÚHÚL Brandýs nad Labem and private mensurational agencies FOREST Management Service and Lesprojekt Eastern Bohemia.

At the same time, a contract was signed between Kanguroid and Forests of the Czech Republic (Lesy ÈR, s.p.) on the use of silvicultural technology Patrik to support regeneration of forest stands within the framework of the Pilot Project Tierralta (Urrá). The contract made it possible to integrate all hitherto activities into one complex "package" that was henceforth presented as a Patric System or a Patrik Technology, enabling to finance the Czech participation in the pilot project in Tierralta from the funds for development aid by means of the project for the Reforestation of the Andes.

Works on the project (plot selection for the nursery) began in October 2002. In April 2003, the first part of the nursery was completed with a production of 180 000 transplants in Patrik containers in 3-month cycles per year. In the same month, machines for reforestation (weed crusher and planter) were delivered to Columbia, which had been manufactured by the Training Forest Enterprise Krtiny (ŠLP Køtiny). Parallel to the completion of the first nursery part, works were launched on the reforestation project that included a detailed mapping of the area, study of natural conditions and implementation of GIS TopoL.

The proper reforestation of estates leased from the Urrá dam-operating company started in June 2003. Intensive reforestation is feasible only during the rain season (May-November). The objective for year 2003 was reforestation of ca. 500 ha and nursery production that would exceed a million of containerized transplants in four cycles per year. In 2004, the Columbian partners reforested about 500 hectares.

Demonstration of the forestation technological system  on example of the Urrá project in Columbia

Area available for reforestation

general information about the territory (proprietary rights, legal issues, geomorphological, climatic and paedological conditions)

specification and analysis of area limitations

Building of a forest nursery based on the Patrik system

The forest nursery was built on the Sinú R. terrace downstream the Urrá dam reservoir. The locality is situated on the margin of area planned for reforestation. The place was chosen also with respect to favourable traffic access with a possibility of transporting the produced planting stock also to other districts of the Córdoba department.

The nursery divides into two basic fields of which one is covered with a mesh to ensure half-shade and equipped with an irrigation system. The second field serves to finalize the planting stock and to adapt it to open-air environment. Next to the field is a shelter with the filler of Patrik containers and with a semi-automated line. The planting stock is raised in mini and classic container sizes. In 2004, the second field was finalized for increased production of transplants in the nursery.

The annual nursery production in 2003 was about 1 320 000 transplants in four cycles. Methods of growing the planting stock are both generative and vegetative.

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Genetics

One of main objectives of the 3F-Project is to raise high quality and growth-homogeneous forest stands of selected tree species or their mixtures:

Cedrella odorata- Cedro- Cedar

Tabebuia rosea- Roble- white oak

Tectona grandis- Teca- Teak*

Acacia mangium- Acacia*

Gmelina arborea- Melina*

Bombacopsis quinata- Ceiba roja o tolua

* introduced species accommodated to environment

In addition to the purchasing of genetically verified seeds, elite trees have been sought and registered across a wide area (Tierralta, Planeta Rica etc.) since 2003 in order to find a genetically suitable material. Five permanent research plots were established within the framework of the project for testing the phenotype characteristics of individuals raised from the elite trees vegetatively and generatively from the purchased seed in the first progeny. On the basis of results, clone archives will be established to facilitate mass vegetative reproduction of the planting stock in further progenies. Apart from the genetic characteristics, the sample plots serve for the testing of increment variables.

Preparation of terrain layout maps and development of GIS

Terrain layouts for the concerned area were either missing or not available. Therefore, a decision was made to analyze the Landsat TM satellite photograph,

definition of coordinate system,

alignment of the coordinates of identical points for precise control points of the photograph,

preliminary classification (watercourses, visible communications, water surfaces),

scanning the coordinates of the boundaries of assessed surfaces, indistinct streams, road pattern,

classification of existing road pattern (paved roads, unpaved tractor roads, other usable roads),

terrain classification (slopes, water surfaces, swamps, remainders of natural forests, ecologically valuable areas),

data in digital form.

Creation of the map of actual terrain layout and vegetation cover characteristics

standard site categories (typology),

preparation of information database – GIS TopoL,

classification of vegetation communities and actual vegetation cover in the region,

distinction of the skeleton of area ecological stability,

placement of soil pits and sampling for laboratory analyses,

During 2005, a Columbian technician was trained for work with GIS TopoL and foundations were laid in cooperation with other technical staff for an information standard of the project.

Technological classification of the area and projects for the reforestation of individual plots

terrain category

existing road pattern

spatial terrain layout (plot-compartment-stand)

distinction of the territory for technology use

Forestation

The selected accessible terrains were reforested by using reel planter, which was for the condition of Columbia added a front-face blade to break down hard iron-bearing horizon (at  depths ranging from 30 cm to 1 m). The forestation by machine was preceded by site preparation with the use of weed crusher.

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Integrated forest protection

Forest protection under conditions of tropical climate is of crucial importance. While in the conditions of temperate forests an insect pest may have 2-3 generations per year, in the tropics, it may have up to nine generations. Moreover, the range of harmful agents is much wider in the tropics. This is why the forest protection is focused both on the phase of raising the planting stock of forest tree species in the nursery and on the plantations. Integrated protection consists in a complex knowledge of ecosystems and harmful agents, in the establishment of ecologically sound strategy of forest stand protection and in the selection of appropriate technological procedures. A must is assessment of results, which affects by feedback the strategy development. A specific problem tackled within the project is the pest of mahoganies (Meliacea) – butterfly Hypsipyla grandella, which can liquidate plantations of mahoganies (in our case Tabebuia rosea, Cedrella odorata) at nearly 100%.

Management plan (Plan de manejo) – GIS TopoL

At the end of 2005 a proposal was prepared for management plan structure to be based on the following inventories:
initial inventory (inventario prendimiento)
current inventory (inventario preoperative)
pre-felling inventory (inventario precosecha)

Completion of the pilot project testing phase

Financial guarantee over the completion of the pilot project testing phase in 2005 was assumed by state enterprise Forests of the Czech Republic (Lesy ÈR) with a view to search for other possibilities of funding the Czech participation in the 3F-Project.