Key words: planted forests, short-rotation species, ecological impacts, economic viability
Abstract. The importance of planted forests for human communities is evident today because of the increase in world population year after year. In order to supply the constantly increasing requirements for wood for fiber, energy, civil construction, resin, latex, and other needs, new forests have been established by adopting new concepts of technology. These forests, especially those with fast-growing and short-rotation species, incorporate the objectives of quality, productivity, and environmental protection. The Eucalyptus plantations established by Aracruz Celulose S. A. to produce pulpwood have strongly contributed to the evolution of forest science, especially in the fields of silviculture, propagation, improvement, genetics, biotechnology, nutrition, environment, and disease control related to eucalypt species. Significant investments in research and development were required, as well as technological adaptation to the local conditions. Results of these investments in productivity and quality defined the technical feasibility to build a pulp industry and its expansion to reach 1,025,000 t/yr of bleached pulp. As a result of these advances, the mean increment of pulp productivity has been improved significantly-from 5.9 air-dried t/ha/yr to 10.9 t/ha/yr (Fenton and Romero 1995; Bertolucci et al. 1995). This became possible by selecting trees more adapted to each site, with high yields of high quality fiber, and with eucalypt clonal plantations with an average rotation age of 7 years. Additional studies of Aracruz have promoted advances in industrial processes, as well as definition of fiber characteristics of mother trees to be in attendance with requirements of markets, thus providing an important competitive advantage (Campinhos and Claudio 1990). The care for the environment-both forest and industrial-has been always present and has been the key point for the good performance of the project. This fact has created a world emulation that strongly contributes to decreasing the pressures on native forests, as a result of the consequent utilization of smaller land areas to produce a desired wood volume. This total project is an example of domestication (Eldridge et al. 1994) of the forest genus Eucalyptus with exceptional qualities and represented by more than 500 species and hybrids (Campinhos et al. 1992).