Opening the conference was Tabare Aguerre, the Uruguayan Minister for Agriculture, who highlighted the fact that Uruguay is the only country in South America that had actually increased its area of native forest in the last twenty years. Aguerre said: "Plantation forestry has helped develop and diversify the Uruguayan economy and continues to attract investments."
"Well-managed plantations can have a positive role to play in economic, social and environmental development when they are managed in accordance with the concepts of the New Generation Plantation Project", added Luis Neves Silva of WWF, manager of the NGPP.
"Our approach to plantation management is aligned with the New Generation Plantation Principles. Wherever we operate, we respect the rights of local communities and protect ecosystems and natural forests. All of our eucalyptus plantations in Uruguay are FSC and PEFC certified," said Javier Solari, vice president of UPM's plantation operations.
The Montevideo conference concluded with a four day study tour of Uruguay sharing best practices in sustainable plantation management.
UPM's eucalyptus plantation forestry company in Uruguay, Forestal Oriental, is the center of expertise for UPM plantation operations worldwide. Approximately 60% of the land owned by the company is planted for eucalyptus. The rest of the land is used for cattle grazing and forestry-related infrastructure or is protected and not used for plantation operations. The long term annual harvest of pulp wood in these areas covers currently 70% of the demand for wood raw material for UPM's Fray Bentos pulp mill. The remaining 30% is purchased from independent suppliers. In co-operation with local private landowners, the company's FOMENTO program works to encourage the suppliers to diversify the use of their farmland using sustainable plantation forestry.