The finca connected to Morgan’s Rock, part of the Agroforestal forestry business whose owners also run MR and SM, is in the process of clearing the brush covering a large swath of land where new trees will be planted. The trees are going to be more separated than in the past so that more of them can grow to full potential faster. Some of the previous plantation plots have suffered from underdevelopment as a result of too much competition between cramped trees. As a result, these confined trees grow straight up and don’t mature in width as quickly, staying thin and branching upwards to reach the sun. One of the positive effects of this growth is that the branches are very straight instead of curvy, but there is less wood. Over the years the finca has planted over 1.5 million trees for harvesting, and 100,000 for reforestation.
When I arrived at the new plot of trees, Israel, supervisor of the workers clearing the land, showed me the distance difference between saplings, marked by long wooden stakes in the ground already cleared. There would be about a meter more between each tree and row. He pointed to the plantations on our right and started saying the names of different trees interspersed in the endless rows. “Caoba Africana, roble, cedro.” African Mahogany, oak, cedar. Other semiprecious-wood trees in the plantation are teak and pochote, which is covered in stubby spines from top to bottom. Every now and then I could see a tree with a yellow line painted on it, marking it for cutting in the coming months. Israel told me that at the moment they are culling about 20% of each tree plantation to promote the growth of healthy trees and cultivate wood for Simplemente Madera. This amounts to roughly 500 trees for each plot where healthier trees are busy growing to optimum maturity. A potential project would be following one of the trees marked for culling through the steps of cutting, processing, preparing, and buying; in “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” Michael Pollan followed a calf from youth through fattening, slaughtering, processing, and the final consumption.