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Fernando de Lellis Garcia Bertolucci

Executive Director of Sustainability, Research and Innovation at Suzano


Planting connections for biodiversity

500 million hectares. This is the size of the forest area in Brazil, the second largest in the world, which means that 59% of the national territory is covered by natural and planted forests, as opposed to the global average of 31%.

It is possible to imagine the richness in biodiversity that these areas gather. However, all this biodiversity is threatened by illegal deforestation and the impacts of climate change. Since 1990, Brazil has lost 15.7% of its forest area, which represents 92 million hectares. Between 2010 and 2020 alone, forest loss was 1.89 million hectares per year. Threats to biodiversity on a global scale were widely discussed during COP15 , more specifically in relation to habitat restoration .

The forest sector has an inseparable relationship with the environment. To talk about the importance of biodiversity for the sector is to reflect on the essence of the business and its perpetuity. After all, we are a natural capital sector that, before thinking about products, sales and profit, has to think about BIO , about wood from planted and certified forests, which is the source for everything we offer as a solution for society. We are talking about a renewable and sustainable raw material. For this reason, the sector understands, more than anyone else, the risks and impacts that climate change can bring (and is already bringing) to the business.

I have been in the forestry business for over 30 years and, over this period, improvement technologies, biotechnology, management of planted trees and the development of products based on them, have evolved exponentially. Therefore, we have to use this in favor of the great climate challenges we are experiencing. More recently, I began to work continuously in favor of “ innovability ”, which is innovation at the service of sustainability. In my opinion, this is an essential pillar to perpetuate the forest business.

Faced with a planet that cries out for help, either we develop new technological solutions in favor of the environment and society, changing our way of producing, or we will all be doomed to failure, because in the game of caring for the planet there are no winners and losers: either everyone wins or everyone loses. The planted tree sector is on the right side of this equation, but we have to be even more protagonists in the search for solutions that transform the world for the better, with positive impacts for society as a whole.

In the case of Suzano, which has sustainability fully integrated into its strategy, innovability has permeated all areas of the business, acting as a guiding principle in the redefinition of processes, in the product portfolio, in the redesign of relationships and methodologies, that is, in everything we do.

Based on all this and using all the experience and knowledge consolidated by the company over almost 100 years, in 2021, we announced our “Commitment to Renovar a Vida” (business goal) to connect, through ecological corridors, 500,000 hectares of Cerrado, Atlantic Forest and Amazon fragments by 2030. We know that habitat fragmentation is, today, one of the main threats to biodiversity.

A crucial factor for the Commitment to be achieved is the collaboration of other partnerships. Approximately half of the 500 thousand hectares to be connected are on land that does not belong to Suzano, which adds an additional challenge to the goal, since we will need the engagement of external partners to move forward.

This posture of engaging other social actors in the process to jointly build solutions led Suzano to establish, in partnership with Itaú Unibanco, Marfrig , Rodobank , Santander and Vale, Biomas: a company whose mission is to restore and conserve 4 million hectares in the Amazon, Cerrado and Atlantic Forest biomes over the next 20 years. This important step was taken during COP27 , held in November 2022, an emblematic event for the global environmental agenda. With this ambitious initiative, we want to take the restoration ecosystem to the next level.

Suzano decided to face these two challenges, as we believe that only together , connected and networked, thinking and building in a systemic way, will we be able to face humanity's great challenges and help build a more sustainable future.