News; May 5, 2007 CET

Mahogany trees restoring nature

"I always wondered why there weren’t any mahogany trees in Mahogany Valley, until I found out that the trees had been harvested for their valuable timber and to create arable land. We’ve just finished planting 20,000 mahogany plants that will grow and restore the natural flora," says Carlos Thomen proudly.

Carlos Thomen is an agronomist and works at General Cigar, a subsidiary of Swedish Match. Approximately 60 percent of the tobacco used in the company's cigar production is grown at his workplace in Copata Mao, in the Dominican Republic. A majority of the tobacco is used for long filler tobacco for the renowned premium cigar brand Macanudo.

"Even though we are conducting a commercial operation, we still need to be caretakers of the land," says Carlos Thomen. "With a climate like ours, with heavy tropical rains that wash away the dry topsoil, land erosion can occur incredibly fast. In the neighboring country of Haiti, there are hardly any trees left and the land consists largely of a rocky desert. We all have a responsibility to ensure that does not happen in the Dominican Republic."

The project was initiated by Carlos Thomen almost a year ago, after contacting the Dominican environmental department. The 20,000 plants were donated by the department to plant at General Cigar's expense. They are now spreading out in those locations that are unsuitable for tobacco planting.

"Yet another positive effect is that when we plant along the river that runs across our land, the tree roots help bind the soil together and keep it in place when it rains. Eventually, the crowns of the trees will also help soften the impact of the rain and minimize the negative effects. I will be following the progress of these small plants with great excitement," concludes Carlos Thomen.