Argentina - Forestry

Argentina's forests, estimated at some 50.9 million hectares (125.8 million acres), or about 18.6% of the total area, constitute one of its greatest underexploited natural resources. Of the 570 species of trees sold in international commerce, Argentina possesses 370, but of these it exploits only about a dozen species. A major factor in the industry's lack of development is the great distance of most forests from the markets and the resultant high cost of transportation. In the Río Paraná Delta, the woods currently exploited are softwoods, such as the elm and willow, used in the cellulose and container industries; in the Gran Chaco, white quebracho, used as a fuel and in the refining of coal, and red quebracho, from which tannin is extracted; in Misiones Province, several varieties, including cedar for furniture manufacturing; in the Salta-Tucumán region, cedar and oak; and in Patagonia, araucania, pine, cypress, larch, and oak.

The most important tree is the red quebracho, which contains 21% tannin, the extract used for tanning. Argentina possesses four-fifths of the world's supply of this wood. Many quebracho trees now being used are from 200 to 500 years old, and trees younger than 75 years are of little commercial use. Since the trees are not being replaced, it is estimated that the quebracho forests will be largely exhausted by the end of the current century.

Production of roundwood was 10,602,000 cu m (374,250,600 cu ft) in 2000. Exports of forest products totaled $293.9 million that year.

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