Why does this forest look like a fingerprint?

From Vox.

We set out to solve why a forest in the middle of Uruguay looked like that — and wound up finding something much bigger.

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Deep in the geographic center of Uruguay, there’s a peculiar group of trees just a few kilometers down the road from the small town of San Gregorio de Polanco. From the ground, it’s not particularly notable. But from above, the view is mind-boggling: Hundreds of trees are arranged in perfect concentric arcs, all spiraling toward the center. Together, they look remarkably like a human fingerprint.

When we first saw this forest in a Reddit post, we were fascinated. Why had the trees been arranged in this shape? Who planted them there? And why — when you zoom out on satellite view — was the entire country of Uruguay covered in similar-looking forests? To answer that question, we went straight to the source: interviewing locals, experts, and people whose lives have been shaped by a transformed landscape and economy.

Further reading:

Read the text of the original “forestry law”: https://www.impo.com.uy/bases/leyes/15939-1987

Read some of Alexandra’s work on afforestation and wildlife: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378112721000268

Eilís O’Neill has a great feature in the Nation on Uruguay’s forestry industry: https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/when-planting-trees-hurts-the-environment/

More stories about residents affected by the railway construction: https://yle.fi/a/3-11756418

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