Eucalyptus nitens in Spain
(The information and some of the photos in this section have been provided by Gus Iglesias of GIT Forestry Consulting: www.git-forestry.com and
Starting in the mid 1990's, significant upland areas of north-west Spain have been planted with Eucalyptus nitens.
This was initiated by one of the pulp and paper companies (CEASA, now part of the ENCE group), but most planting appears to be speculative and carried out by small landowners.
Usually, the sites have either had a recent history of rough or abandoned pasture, or formerly carried pine (P. radiata).
The approaches used for establishment are usually relatively simple and low-cost, and rely on rapid establishment of the eucalyptus so that the crop dominates the site from an early age.
This is feasible because the soils are normally moist, allowing the eucalypts to grow for much of the year.
Particularly notable features (for the UK at least) are that the sites are normally unfenced, and treeguards are never used, despite a large population of deer.
This obviously has a huge impact on establishment costs; while these will obviously vary with site, it is likely that they are typically in the range €1000-1300 per hectare (£700-900/ha).
The following pictures illustrate establishment and growth on several sites in the area between Lugo and the north coast of Galicia:
An abandoned pasture site, with much gorse and bracken, mechanically cleared and ripped. Planted with E. nitens in April 2006. The seedlings are barely-visible in the rip lines. The surrounding stand is likely to be age 5 or 6 years.
The same site, at the end of 2006. The E.nitens has established well, despite re-growth of the bracken. Also visible in the foreground is some natural regeneration of E.delegatensis from an adjacent stand.
An abandoned arable site, deep ripped to >70 cm. No herbicide treatment. Planted with Eucalyptus nitens spring 2005; photo December 2005. There has been good initial establishment, but the grass is likely to inhibit tree growth very significantly during 2006.
Former pine site with dense gorse and birch, normally moist but well-drained. It was mechanically cleared, with debris allowed to dry and then partially incorporated. Ripped to at least 70cm. Photo taken October 2005, approx 6 months from planting with Eucalyptus nitens. Initial establishment has been good. Although growth in 2006 is likely to suffer from competition from the gorse and areas of bracken, the stand is likely to close canopy during 2007. Further weed control will probably be judged unnecessary. On this site, the moisture availability will be the key to success.
The same site, in February 2007. Good early growth of Eucalyptus nitens, typical of most of the site. No further weed control had been carried out, but the undergrowth will certainly have been browsed by deer.
The understory of established stands of Eucalyptus nitens can become extremely dense. In some stands, cattle and horses are allowed to graze this vegetation. This photograph illustrates one such stand; the fence is to contain the stock.
Eucalyptus nitens age 13 years, near Meira, Galicia. This is a fertile upland area with a relatively mild climate, just south of the southern edge of the coastal zone that is largely planted with E. globulus. The area has a significant dairy industry, but many small (<2 ha) eucalyptus stands have been planted in the past 10 years.