A group of Punta Arenas businessmen visited the Islands last week.
The trade delegation, led by Mr Marcos Leal Pineda, regional director of the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Ministry's ?ProChile' have been meeting with Falklands businesses and retailers hoping to establish links with the Islands. The delegation were representing an association of furniture and construction entrepreneurs who use *"Lenga wood" which is only found in the forests of Patagonia - for their products.
Mr Leal Pineda said they were keen to understand the possible market in the Falklands. They want to, "...see the culture of the Falklands and see what people want and need. We know you buy things by catalogue and, as a result, are patient, but we also know you pay a lot for what you get."
The association of entrepreneurs offer an array of Lenga products, from bedroom to living room furniture, and windows to coffins.
Mr Leal Pineda commented, "Within the members the products on offer include beds, chairs, sofas, wine racks, tables, windows and doors..." In the past, he said, separate businesses were almost hidden in Punta Arenas; by joining forces under the association, they are able to better promote themselves. "When we're together, we're stronger."
The association plans to establish a web site through which Falkland Islanders could place orders in English, something Mr Leal Pineda said will take time.
However, he added that the group is confident there is a potential market in the Falklands and this is a valuable tool to work on; this visit, he said, "is just the genesis."
Next year, all the members of the association will be selling their goods at a trade fair, planned to be held in Punta Arenas from July 26 - 30. Mr Leal Pineda said an invitation to Falkland Islands businesses will be sent out but added, "Anyone who says they are from the Falklands will be given free entry." (PN)
* Lenga, Nothofagus pumilio, is found growing along side Cohique Chile with the exception being in the northern part of its distribution where the tree grows more as a shrub-sized plant. But in the lower regions, the trees will be similar to the other Nothofagus species in size.
Lenga is also very difficult to dry, usually requiring two years to air dry to 25 percent to 30 percent. Care must also be taken when kiln drying to avoid collapse. However, once dry, Lenga is dimensionally stable.
The heartwood is very consistent and homogeneous in color. It is mostly light brown with a slight pink or yellow cast.
Lenga is very easy to mill with both hand and machine tools and glues and finishes very well. In fact, Lenga is so easy to work and finish that it produces some excellent paneling, flooring, cabinets and casework for the home and office.
It is also used to make furniture, drawers, containers and tool handles. Lenga is considered to be very much like a relative species from that same region.