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Erich Schaitza

General Chief of Embrapa Floresta


Organize to generate knowledge and innovations

The round table on the current position and prospects for the Brazilian forestry segment was made up of representatives from rural producers, mechanically processed wood industries, cellulose industries, charcoal producers and the person responsible for public policies related to planted forests in Brazil. Ministry of Agriculture, and of the issues discussed I highlight:

1. Planted and native forests are important for everyone, both for providing services and generating jobs and income. We have different challenges in planted and native forests, but it is important that both generate services and income.

2. All rural properties have or should have forests.

3. Economically, the forest does not compete with agriculture, but complements it. It is an additional alternative for rural producers and an activity that improves the sustainability of rural properties.

4. We live in times of climate change and commitments to decarbonize the economy. We also live in times of bioeconomy green economy and circular economy. Forests play a key role in this regard.

a. Maintaining natural forests through sustainable forest management prevents deforestation and associated emissions, whether by forestry companies, communities or public forest concessions. Forests generating income are more likely to not burn and not be replaced by other activities.

b. Changing land use from degraded areas, agriculture and livestock farming to forestry plantations generates significant gains in carbon capture. And the forestry sector has a serious commitment not to deforest for reforestation. A clear example of this action is the conversion of almost 2 million hectares of degraded pastures into planted forests in Mato Grosso do Sul. We have a solid industrial base from which a series of new green product industries will derive. According to the Brazilian Tree Industry, there are approximately 5 thousand products originating from the planted forest chain.

c. Our planted forests, when well managed, are inserted into the landscape in a sustainable way, so they play an important role in conserving biodiversity, soil and water. This potential is enhanced by the industry's initiative to form mosaics of plantations and natural forests.

5. From the point of view of forestry products, there are four major trends for the future:

a. New wood products, replacing plastics and other petroleum products. We will hear a lot about nanocellulose, nanolignin and other wood derivatives.

b. Wood and derivatives (such as coal and pellets) are increasingly important in our energy matrix. Furthermore, there is potential for the development of gases, hydrogen and liquid fuels from wood. Again, wood as an alternative to oil.

c. Houses, buildings and rural constructions have grown in importance all over the world and this will not happen in Brazil. Engineered wood, a generic name to describe pieces glued together from the most diverse wooden elements, produced by the industry with superior designs and quality for construction, represents great environmental advantages when compared to cement, bricks and metals, as it has light, clean and with low carbon production systems. There are still cost barriers, but more than that, regulatory barriers.

d. Continued growth of the cellulose sector with planned investments of approximately 30 billion reais until 2030.

6. A new movement of native forest plantations, the productive restoration of forests, is emerging due to environmental liabilities and the national commitment to plant 12 million hectares of forests. In principle, they are not plantations of a single species, but consortiums of species planted to obtain forests similar to natural forests. Therefore, two great opportunities arise:

a. Integrate forestry production from these new forests into our industries;

b. Integrate plantations with exotics as facilitators of regeneration and growth of restoration plantations. We have a broad technical base that shows that it is possible, for example, to use eucalyptus as a guardian for several species, reducing planting costs and bringing an income perspective for producers.

7. Integrated systems of agriculture, livestock and forestry, known as the integration of Crop, Livestock and Forestry, are an interesting solution for producers and forestry companies. Again, these are systems with a positive or neutral carbon balance, in which the growth of trees compensates for emissions from livestock and agriculture. They are also systems in which trees offer environmental advantages and services for livestock, agriculture and the conservation of soil, water and biodiversity. For the forestry industry, these systems can be a great factor in convincing farmers and, especially, livestock farmers to enter forestry production. With the advantage of being a system in which economic dependence on producers is lower than in the case of forestry planting.

8. The government has a fundamental role in encouraging forest planting and strengthening emerging industries:

a. In the case of forestry of already traditional species, such as pine and eucalyptus, it might be necessary to simplify the fiscal part and the entire licensing framework for larger enterprises;

b. In the case of new forestry, create incentives to increase the scale of the activity and strengthen the entire production and service chain;

c. With new industries, use strategies such as the use of purchasing power to leverage energy generation with biomass, construction of houses, schools and public wooden buildings.

d. In all areas, work to educate and train actors in the production chain. It is not possible to have machine operators, nursery workers, planters, handlers and all other actors in the chain without good professional qualifications.

9. We have a huge need for workforce qualification programs, especially at the technical level. This applies to all links in the forestry production chains. There is a major modernization in the forestry area and one of the competitive barriers we have is the qualification of labor, whether for field or industrial operations.

Finally, advocating for its own cause, the forestry sector has to organize itself to generate knowledge and innovations that keep us in the “first world” of forestry.