San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Country Could Suffer Wood Shortage

By next year, Costa Rica will be unable to supply wood for 50% of its internal demand because illegal logging and insufficient reforestation efforts have meant the nation’s harvestable tree plantations have nearly run out, according to an estimate from the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE).

According to the Vice-Minister of Environment and Energy, Jorge Rodríguez, Costa Rica goes through 800,000 cubic meters of wood each year, of which 64% comes from plantations. Another 30% comes from ranchlands and illegal logging, and 6% – 48,000 cubic meters – comes from primary or secondary forest, the daily La Nación reported.

While the Environment Ministry estimated this shortage could mean $115 million in additional costs yearly for the country to meet the demand for wood, Alfonso Barrantes, director of the National Forest Office, said builders and mill owners would be forced to import 400,000 cubic meters at a cost of $200 million yearly to keep up, La Nación reported.

To avoid a wood shortage, Rodríguez said the ministry would carry out a program to “promote reforestation and forest management and push forward the modernization of the forestry industry and the fight against illegal cutting.”

This would include allowing for increased harvesting of primary and secondary forest. Rodríguez told La Nación that the government would authorize harvesting six or seven trees per hectare in 20,000 hectares of primary and secondary forest outside of protected areas.

The program will include new legal mechanisms, institutional programs and training of workers in new technology to manage forests, the statement said.

Luis Diego Marín of the Flora and Fauna Conservation Association took issue with MINAE’s plan, saying he doubted that Costa Rica had enough hectares of land outside of protected areas to adequately supply the demand. He added he fears the government would turn to vast forest reserves in the Southern Zone, near the Golfo Dulce gulf, on the Pacific coast, the daily reported.

–Tico Times and ACAN-EFE Reports


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