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Zaid Ahmad Nasser

President of the Paraná Association of Forestry Companies - APRE, and Director of The Forest Company Group


The immediate challenges forest harvest

Urgent action is needed to restore climate balance. Starting the article with this phrase, I want to bring to the dialogue how important planted forests are for society and the environment, as they offer a renewable raw material, with minimal environmental impact, capable of capturing and fixing carbon, among other things other benefits.

Today, the approximate area of planted forests in Brazil, according to the Brazilian Tree Industry, is 10 million hectares, and the most planted species are pine and eucalyptus. In recent years, showing great global competitiveness, our country, with an important group of companies, has shown that new investments and expansion of industrial plants in different sectors linked to planted forests, such as sawmills and cellulose, are possible.

Such timber and forestry industrial expansion projects caused companies to increase the distance in search of raw materials and develop new logistics methodologies, adding new techniques to improve forestry management, for example. By expanding this distance, companies also needed to evolve and adapt, often, to new challenges.

It is important to highlight that Brazil stands out with one of the highest productivity in the world with potential for growth. Furthermore, our forests have rotations of 15, 18, 21, up to 28 years, and forestry companies manage the production chain in such a way that it is quite diversified, serving the markets for cellulose, paper, reconstituted panels, plywood, sawn wood, biomass and higher value-added products, such as solid wood flooring, doors and windows, frames, engineered wood etcetera.

It is also clear that the demand for forest-based products has been growing around the world, driven by consumers' search for sustainability. And, precisely at this moment, one of the major points debated in the sector is: where to grow in plantable area?

To analyze this scenario, we must remember what happened in the past with some sectors that necessarily used only exclusive log diameters for their activity. Due to the advancement of industries, such as cellulose, the availability of larger diameters became, at some point, scarce. However, over the years, the timber industrial sector has shown itself to be dynamic and, above all, capable of reversing possible supply problems. A classic example is the lamination sector: in the past, only logs with diameters above 30 centimeters were consumed; Currently, with technological innovation, it is now possible to produce logs with diameters above 15 centimeters.

Part of the solution for the future of forest supply therefore involves forest harvesting and its challenges. The imbalance in the water regime, for example, invites forest producers and companies to think about issues linked to the volume produced per hectare, followed by the productivity of harvesting machines, since the investment to acquire them has as one of the variables the predicted individual tree volume, and the reduction in this volume impacts the viability and continuity of the process with the assumptions previously used.

Another point worth highlighting is the sizing of the machines. Just as happened with trucks, I believe that we will see, in the near future, the development of equipment with different compositions to have lighter options. As I mentioned, the volume of individual trees has decreased, but the machines remain heavy. This topic tends to follow the same path as the area of wood transportation, which promoted changes in the raw material to make it lighter and increase load capacity. New tire sizing will also be a trend, to better distribute weight and thus provide a lower impact on the ground.

And, to conclude the reflection, I quote again the first sentence of this article: urgent actions are necessary to reestablish climate balance. Our deadline is short, as Brazil has an important environmental, social and corporate governance agenda to be fulfilled by 2030.

Changing the machine supply matrix has emerged as a reality for the sector. This change to a sustainable electrified base is, without a doubt, the most urgent agenda for the entire production chain, as we must demonstrate and apply our sector's capacity to be sustainable not only with the noble work of planting trees, but also with concern for the short-term evolution of the use of forest harvesting machines, to further reduce carbon dioxide emissions in our activity, an activity that produces raw materials for the industrial market and that goes much further, generating well-being to society, protecting the environment and maintaining the ability to restore environmental imbalances.