The balsa tree is the fastest growing tree in the world. It can grow from a tiny seedling to an adult 90 feet high in about 5-7 years. It grows straight and tall, with a trunk of about 18 inches in diameter, and is topped by a lush crown of very large leaves.
Each balsa tree produces hundreds of thousands of seeds. These are carefully culled, and only the fittest are germinated in nurseries and planted on the farms.
The other ingredients for rapid healthy growth are contributed by nature: the rich Ecuadorian soil, rainfall that averages 90 inches a year and hot tropical sunlight.
Balsa wood is cultivated on plantations in Ecuador and is not harvested from the rain forest. By cultivating seedlings ourselves, we can guarantee continuous reforestation and safeguard the high quality of our balsa forests. Certain parts of the plantation are left to nature, to conserve the natural habitat of many animal species. In this way we preserve biodiversity for the benefit of the environment and of the population that lives and works there.
To transform natural balsa into structural end-grain balsa remarkably small amounts of energy are required. Mature trees are harvested and milled to pieces of lumber before being kiln-dried. The quality, physical properties and density of the balsa are then closely graded and glued into large blocks.
These blocks are precision cut into end-grain sheets and further processed into the numerous available product configurations.
FSC-certified responsible forestry management
As a company, we support responsible forest management. Plantabal S.A., our balsa plantations, have earned Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Forest Management certification from the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood program.
This certification ensures that our balsa plantations meet a set of environmental, social and economic criteria. Download our FSC certification here. The FSC is the global standard-setter in responsible forest management. Forest Management certification is granted to forestry operations that have met the FSC standards according to an audit by an accredited certifier such as the Rainforest Alliance.
The Rainforest Alliance, an international non-profit conservation organization, is the world’s leading certifier of forestlands to the FSC standards.
What does responsible forest management mean for us?
We have created a complete management system to nurture and care for thousands of trees at every stage of growth, from seedling to 90-foot adult trees. Climatic conditions are charted, soil is analyzed and trees are constantly examined and measured. Almost seventy years of experience of Baltek Corp. aid us in producing superior quality balsa crop after crop.
Additionally, we maintain an ongoing broad-based programme of research into the sustainability aspects of plantation management. For detailed information about plantation management, download our Sustainable Forestry Management Policy here.
We also have a special cooperation with Fundacion Chile (FC) which is a non-profit foundation that was established in 1976 by the Government of Chile and ITT Industries. They focus for example on innovative and renewable ways of forestry management.