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Bruno Mariani

Shareholder and CEO of Symbiosis


Restoration for economic purposes, how to do it?

With the increase in global temperature, many agree that we need to plant forests, but few initiatives have sought solutions using trees native to our biomes, and even less with a view to finding the best and most efficient way to do so. Silviculture in Brazil has, over the past 100 years, been dedicated to adapting and improving the productivity of trees from other countries. Nothing against it, quite the contrary.

Since 2006, after leaving 20 years of the financial market behind, I decided to investigate forestry with native trees for the production of sawn wood, given the enormous comparative advantage of Brazil: great availability of degraded lands in regions where forests existed in the past, competitive prices and a tropical climate that allows for year-round tree growth. During this process, I was surprised by the lack of reliable information about our timber species. The few surveys and initiatives at universities and research centers are incomplete, short-lived and insufficient to make a reliable financial projection.

My objective then became to develop a business plan that would allow the emergence of a forest industry focused on the production of sawn wood that would face the unbridled devastation that has already liquidated the Atlantic Forest and that destroys the Amazon without adding value and prosperity to the population. The challenge is to produce high quality wood from native trees and, at the same time, restore legal reserves and permanent protection areas, which are so important for the production of environmental services.

The market knows the high quality of wood from species from the Atlantic Forest and the Amazon, which have been extracted and consumed in Brazil and in the world over the centuries. However, almost no effort has been made to understand the characteristics of these plants, how to cultivate them, what is their growth speed, what is the ideal arrangement to plant them in forest consortia, and what is the potential to increase their productivity and improve their form.

For someone who didn't know the business, what caught my attention was the lack of curiosity and imagination, but especially the incredible opportunity that presented itself.

When investigating the history of countries in the northern hemisphere, which devastated their natural forests almost completely three hundred years ago, and when noting that today there is a very well structured and profitable lumber industry there, based on reforestation and conducting regeneration, it became clear to me that reforestation with native species of high commercial value would be a great business opportunity for Brazil.

The success of the pulp and paper industry in Brazil, which conquered the world with the leaps in productivity in eucalyptus planting, pointed the way: investing in forest improvement, understanding silviculture, domesticating our species, in addition to finding the best way to combine them in consortia. Our species need specific ecological conditions to develop fully, some need partial shade at the beginning of their life and others develop well in full sun. By combining them in alternating lines, we can maximize the quality of the stem and development. Additionally, the use of leguminous wood species fertilizes the soil, benefiting the consortium as a whole.

In addition, the combination of several species in a consortium meets the strategy of diversifying financial and biological risk as in a portfolio of assets with balanced risk. In order to diversify the commercial risk, it is necessary to have a " forestry portfolio" that has woods of different colors, densities and uses.

Given the little silvicultural knowledge of our species, nothing more natural than studying dozens of species of high commercial value and selecting them until the ideal species is found.

Another important objective is to produce with biodiversity. With the use of native species in production and conservation areas, in the latter, using dozens of species without logging purposes, we seek a positive impact on fauna and soil. Over the past 12 years, we have carried out regular inventories of vertebrates and invertebrates, which prove the great diversity of fauna in our areas and confirm our mission: “Meet society's need for wood products without altering the mechanisms by which ecosystems are sustained”.

Over the past 12 years, a large open-air laboratory covering 1,500 hectares has been implemented on a pilot scale, where species, spacing, soil correction, conventional and green fertilization, among others, have been tested. At the same time, it was necessary to form a professional team, mixing experience, youth, academic excellence, forestry knowledge , mastery of equipment, machinery, financial and administrative management. During this time, financial and accounting management was audited by international companies, so that there was confidence in costs, processes and governance, creating a professional management methodology in the pursuit of long-term excellence.

In 2017, once sufficient inventory data had accumulated, two international organizations examined, modeled and proved the economic model, using discounted cash flow projections, using timber prices from long-term databases available in Brazil and abroad, data those of tropical wood from deforestation.

Once the economic model has been proven, it then moves on to the model's new challenge: expansion with the purchase and implementation of new areas to efficiently reach a larger scale.

In order to be successful in the enormous challenge that follows, protocols and prescriptions were defined, and operations control systems were incorporated, income and cost monitoring integrated into the accounting and financial system, bringing security in decision-making, in the search for revenue diversification , scale gains and efficiency improvements.