São Paulo gathering of global specialists explores how planted forests can balance ecosystem services with providing resources to meet growing demand; Fibria says WWF New Generation Plantations Project aligns with its own forest management practices

Audrey Dixon

Audrey Dixon

Mar 19, 2012 – Fibria

SAO PAULO , March 14, 2012 (press release) – Fibria participated in organizing the annual gathering in relation to the WWF Network’s New Generation Plantations Project, which was held in São Paulo and was attended by specialists from around the world

São Paulo - On Monday, March 5th, more than 70 specialists from a various countries – Finland, South Africa, the UK, Portugal, France, the USA, Malaysia, Indonesia, Chile, Uruguay, and others – gathered together in São Paulo to discuss how planted forests can help to maintain ecosystem services while at the same time providing resources to meet the needs of an ever growing population.

The occasion was the annual gathering in relation to the New Generation Plantations (NGP) project, developed by WWF International and brought to this country by WWF-Brazil.

New generation plantations

The NGP concept offers an ideal management model, whereby planted forests maintain the integrity of the ecosystem and are developed by means of participative processes involving the stakeholders, with a view to environmental conservation and contributing to economic growth.

Mauro Armelin, coordinator of the WWF-Brazil Amazon program, stated that, “The world will increasingly need fibers, such as wood, and fuels, and planted forests are a good way to supply this demand in a responsible manner”.

Project

The NGP project involves a group of partners, including WWF, companies and governments from around the world that are working together to analyze the social, environmental, economic and cultural role played by forest plantations, and to develop and disseminate best practices in relation to the plantations.

The aim is to improve the plantations, helping them to be compatible with the conservation of biodiversity and of ecosystems and, at the same time, with human needs - based on existing examples - and to share this information.

Mr. Armelin pointed out that, “The NGP provides a platform for discussing the best social and environmental practices, while also attempting to influence public policies regarding planted forests”.

Rodney Taylor, forest director of WWF-International, stated that “The WWF believes that the NGP concept could play a fundamental role in maintaining the world’s natural capital”. Mr. Taylor added that, “Forest products from plantations managed using best practices have much less impact on nature than alternatives such as steel, concrete and plastic”.

João Augusti, Fibria’s Forest Environment manager, emphasized that, “as a result of Fibria’s participation in the New Generation Plantations Project, the company is even more stimulated to expand its production and proceed with innovations that will yield social and environmental benefits within its areas of influence. The Project is aligned with the Forest management adopted by Fibria for its 1,080,000 hectare forest base, 405,000 of which have been set aside for environmental conservation”.

Context

The New Generation Plantations project is a response to a growing need for a better understanding of the role that plantations may play in the societies of the future, reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with human needs.

The NGP takes into consideration the fact that we need the products and services derived from tree plantations and that original untouched ecosystems are under increasing pressure, year after year, to provide such products and services. In this context, planted forests can be part of the solution.

Brazilian Case Studies

Fibria was the first forestry sector company in Brazil to become engaged in the project, through its eucalyptus plantations. The company employs the concept of sustainable forest mosaics, as it seeks to balance production results with the simultaneous protection of catchment areas, prevention of soil erosion, water loss and degradation, and the preservation of nutrient cycles and the habitat of many protected and endangered species, while providing non-timber forest products.

Veracel Celulose SA, a joint venture between Stora Enso and Fibria, located in the south of the Brazilian state of Bahia, represents the state of the art in pulp manufacturing and the planting of eucalyptus. In its tree planting, Veracel has adopted an exclusive land use model, based on the mosaic landscape approach that combines eucalyptus cultivation for industrial use with the conservation and restoration of the native Atlantic forest.

Best practices

Plantations that are well planned and managed can be beneficial to the environment in degraded areas, such as depleted pastureland. On the other hand, if they are badly managed or badly located, they can cause significant damage to the natural habitats and services provided by the ecosystem, with a breakdown in cycles and loss of water, nutrients, carbon sink and biodiversity.

Nevertheless, the NGP Project shows how the negative impact can be reduced through the introduction of good practices. Here are some examples:

Water cycle
In arid and semi arid regions, plantations can reduce the amount of water available in a river basin, leading to the drying up of streams and less groundwater to supply drinking water. The NGP experience suggests that the establishing of riparian zones and minimal use of herbicides and fertilizers, particularly during wetter periods, reduces the change in water flow.
Soil nutrients
The establishing of a plantation can affect the nutrient cycle, both positively and negatively. The negative effects include disturbing the soil structure, while fertilizers can inhibit the availability of nutrients. However, this can be overcome through best practices, such as a careful combining of species within the plantation.
Climate changes
The converting of natural forest into plantations often accelerates climate change, by increasing carbon emissions. Nevertheless, the establishing of a plantation on unforested land normally increases the amount of stored carbon, as well as reducing methane emissions into the atmosphere on sites where it replaces livestock farming. Plantations can have a positive impact on the climate, as long as they are managed in a sustainable manner and do not take the place of natural or semi-natural forests.

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