Council of Forestry

Submitted by Juan Conatz on December 22, 2010

Lumber is not plentiful in Spain. Woods have been: disgracefully thinned without any thought of the future. This has given Spain an almost desolate aspect and has seriously affected the humidity of the soil, fountain of its agricultural wealth. For a considerable period of years reforestation will be an important task for the new economy.

There are 2,380,000 acres of high mountain land, 4,500,000 of slopes and pasture land. Under proper care this total acreage should supply the necessary lumber for building and fuel. The timber is not only to be considered for its industrial utility, but also as a beneficial agent for the land, producing microorganisms to fertilise the soil and form the humus, which in the course of years will reduce the aridity and desolation of the Spanish land.

It can be calculated that the reforestation of the 14 million present desert acres would produce yearly more than twenty million cubic feet of lumber, plus the other direct and indirect benefits of an extensive and profuse area of woods.

In Segovia there are great tracts of plains with their important production of resin and by-products. Extremadura and Andalusia abound in cork trees which have been very important in the maintenance of the cork industry in Spain. As a matter of fact, the production of cork in Spain and Portugal represents 70% of the world output. This industry has now spread to other countries and only through a thorough modernisation of productive technique can the cork industry in Spain gain its past prestige in the World.

St. John's bread grows more in Spain than in any other Mediterranean zone. Eight million trees occupy 192,793 acres; to which must be added further three million trees disseminated through rocky lands and gulleys. The seed of these trees converted into flour makes a nutritious feed for livestock. There is also another by-product, "vaina" which can be used in the production of alcohol. There are besides other medicinal and chemical byproducts of these trees.

Almond trees are also much cultivated in Spain and their product has a big market in the interior as well as abroad.

What is necessary is a corps of technicians, botanists, engineers, and laborers to develop plantations and forest beds. An adequate number of forest guards for the conservation of the woods is also required. The Council of forest production should be constituted in every geographical zone with the object of encouraging the cultivation of trees, planting of forests, the production of fruit trees and the distribution of lumber and fuel for the use of the population. They will also care for textile fibres and other industrial substances extracted from the trees.

All the immediate work would be under the organic supervision of this Council leaving the ulterior processes of industrialisation to other Councils. For example, the forest council would collect the oil from the olive trees but the refining of the oil and bottling of the olives would be administered by the foodstuffs Council. In the same way, the elaboration of resin and the roots from the pines would come under the Council of Chemical Industries.