State power firm is using its own trees to provide project lumber

The state power company has gone into the lumbering business, but even it had to jump a lot of legal hoops. The firm, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, has a forestry program that now is cutting cypress and pine in the vicinity of the Cachí hydro project.

Over the last two years, workers cut and processed some $97,000 worth of timber that has been used in the construction of administrative offices in Sabana Norte. The firm estimated that it saved 65.5 million colons or about $125,000.

The firm said that the trees involved were not native and that they were being replaced in a reforestation program. The trees were at least 30 years old, the firm said.

To do this, the state company had to apply to the Fiscalía Forestal of the Colegio de Ingenieros y Agrónomos and also the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía. Cutting trees even on an individual’s own land requires a permit. So does transporting the cut lumber.

Costa Rica has strict rules because of so much lumber theft from state lands.

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad maintains its own sawmill, too, so it can specify the size of boards and slabs of wood. The company said that frequently its workers need wood of dimensions that are not available in the retail market. The wood also is used for special purposes such as blocks for bracing turbines when they are being repaired, it said. The company said that it has 6,600 trees on 30 hectares that will be lumbered in the coming years.

Workmen move a log into position at the firm's sawmill.

Workmen move a log into position at the firm’s sawmill.

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