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Eucalyptus globulus provides the wood from which The Navigator Company manufactures its paper. A number of myths have grown up around this species, and it is important to separate fact from fiction.
In addition to the economic wealth it brings to Portugal, eucalyptus is a fast-growing species that makes it highly efficient in retaining carbon dioxide and countering the greenhouse effect.
Introduced to Portugal in around 1830, the expansion of eucalyptus plantations was a phenomenon of the second half of the twentieth century, in tandem with the growth of the country's pulp and paper industry which has established itself as a world player.
It was in Portugal that eucalyptus wood was first used to manufacture paper pulp. The Navigator Company took a leading role in this process, as it was at one of its mills (Cacia) that the process was successfully pioneered in 1957.
Thanks to its properties, Eucalyptus globulus is regarded by experts around the world as providing the ideal fibre for printing and writing paper. The wood is made up of short fibres presenting extremely consistent properties: excellent softness, bulk, rigidity, dimensional stability and wet strength.
1. Eucalyptus extracts groundwater
Eucalyptus trees are actually highly efficient in using the water available. Without long or deep roots, they are able to regulate transpiration through their leaves, retaining excess water for use in periods of drought, rather like camels.
Eucalyptus trees are highly efficient in using the water available. Eucalyptus produces more fibre and more wood from the same quantity of water than other species.
2. Eucalyptus trees release toxic substances that leave the soil barren
Eucalyptus leaves are rich in a chemical substance, cincol, widely used in pharmaceutics for its soothing properties. This substance has the effect of killing certain bacteria on contact, but these effects have been proven to cease when the leaves containing it decompose.
In other words, eucalyptus trees have no sterilising effect, but merely the potential to reduce biological and microbiological diversity to a marginal extent.
3. Eucalyptus trees consume more nutrients in the soil, preventing the growth of other species.
The many examples of land being successfully converted from eucalyptus plantations to other agricultural purposes are the best proof that this is a myth. Although eucalyptus saplings grow very fast, using up many of the mineral salts in the soil, 80% of these are returned to the land from bark and leaves which seasonally fall to the ground.
In addition, research has shown that eucalyptus can be cultivated on a site for a century with no undesirable effects.