Reforestation in Cusco with queña tree

Thursday November 22, 2018
Reforestation in Cusco with queña tree

One of the most typical trees from the Andes region is the queña, according to the website Cuzco Eats, dedicated to Peruvian food and culture. The queña can be found in the highlands of Peru, Bolivia and Chile, with the most varieties in Bolivia. What makes this tree very special is that it grows at the highest altitudes of all trees, with the ability to produce oxygen above 4000 meters.

This is possible because of the tree’s thick and foliated trunk and the layers that cover it. The layers protect the tree from the cold. When the layers fall on the ground, they mix with the dry leaves and create a fertilizing humus. Furthermore, the tree uses a very small amount of water.

Another tree that can be found at this altitudes is the Eucalyptus, a tree that is originally from Australia and has been planted in the highlands. In the surroundings of Cusco, you can find many eucalyptus trees. The Eucalyptus grows fast and straight and its wood can be sold, which makes it very profitable. The downside of this tree is that it absorbs large amounts of nutrients, so nothing can grow around it. Also, the roots erode the soil.

In contrary, the queña fertilizes the soil, prevents erosion, retains water and even though its trunk can’t be used as construction wood, it reaches a height of 3 to 7 meters which makes it suitable as fuel wood.

There are many queña trees at different places in and around Cusco such as the city squares and the Sacred Valley, and in the arqueological park of Sacsayhuaman, there’s even a whole forest, thanks to the reforestation of the Municipality of Cusco. But reforestation with the queña instead of the Eucalyptus is progressing slowly; as the Eucalyptus generates more money there is still a long way to go.

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