Me chame no WhatsApp Agora!

Vlademir Martarello

Forestry and Occupational Safety Engineer at Adami


The modernization of the forest sector in southern Brazil

Co-author: Juliana Tramontina, Forestry Engineer at Adami

The modernization of the forestry sector in the South of Brazil passes through milestones throughout history. In order to understand the evolution that it represented and represents to the sector, it is necessary to carry out a brief historical review.

The extraction of raw material from native forests ensured the economic growth and maintenance of colonizing families in southern Brazil in the early 19th century. From the 1960s onwards, with the creation of tax incentives, the introduction of exotic species on a commercial scale began in Brazilian territory. The species of the genera Pinus and Eucalyptus allowed the development of plantations on an increasing scale, creating alternatives that reduced the pressure on native forests.

At the beginning of the reforestation activities, the exploitation techniques used had human and animal strength as their main characteristic, making use of rustic and inaccurate tools, such as axes, saws and animals for traction and drag. Gradually, chainsaws and adapted agricultural equipment were introduced, starting an escalation in search of income and productivity.

In the 1990s, the first equipment, developed especially for forestry use, arrived from European countries and the United States. The insertion of this new technological apparatus evidenced the beginning of forest mechanization in Brazil. This advance, although signaling clearly perceptible operational advantages in the field of forestry production, was marked by high costs and little specialized technical assistance.

Thus, access to this equipment by small and medium-sized companies only took place after a few years, as they became more accessible from the perspective of investments and evolved in their form of production, including the incorporation of national technologies. In this sense, a new scenario was formed and fostered the development of new methodologies and, consequently, new technologies for production, implementation and harvesting. However, the evolution did not occur uniformly in the sector. Forest harvesting has evolved sharply, while forestry, for example, currently lacks more developed operational technologies.

Today, forest harvesting has a market that provides equipment designed for cutting and extracting wood under highly sophisticated models, guaranteeing, from an ergonomic point of view, high levels of operational performance. The technology embedded in these equipments, associated with telemetry, in addition to ensuring accuracy in the assortment classes, production control and maintenance, allows the faithful monitoring of working hours and, in turn, the operator's performance, real-time location of the equipment and simultaneous transfer of data to the respective operational management centers.

From the point of view of forestry, modernization took place mainly in the planting system, moving from a manual to a semi-mechanized system. However, and although assuming a not very prominent scale, the adoption of mechanized planting models through forest planters pointed to a significant advance in terms of the quality of soil preparation, fertilization, planting and irrigation when in areas flat and moderately sloping, given that several operations occur simultaneously in some planter models.

This fact has also signaled a significant advance in microplanning aimed at precision forestry. On the other hand, the clear differences verified and imposed by the peculiar system of cultivation of forest species, the terrain conditions and the type of silvicultural intervention (planting versus renovation), some limitations must be overcome to meet the most varied systems of implantation, which still make many producers and companies opt for the manual planting system.

Forest planning, in turn, has undergone structural and strategic reengineering in recent years thanks to innovative tools in the field of computational capacity, obtaining high-resolution remote sensing data, development of geoprocessing techniques and the emergence of unmanned aerial vehicles. These technologies and tools have helped us to move from analog maps to detailed and updated thematic maps in digital format, available on mobile device screens, with friendly and interactive end-user interfaces. It's not just about going from analogue to digital. It is about quick, strategic, assertive and agile decision-making, given that they can be taken in real time.

In the scope of the forest inventory, the measurement equipment followed the same evolution, together with the methodologies for collecting and processing data. However, the need for constant survey plans and measurement of data from the field is still predominant, making this practice relatively expensive. The use of LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) data is the most recent advance in the field of forest inventory. Initially, the limitations inherent to this new geotechnology were due to the high cost of investment, although the advancement in this field of knowledge and the more applied application of this data ensure an increasingly broad feasibility and accessibility.

The challenge of this application is to guarantee the accuracy of forest inventories, when compared to those carried out under traditional techniques. Regardless of the focal point, modernization is noticeable throughout the production chain: from implementation planning to transport logistics, from seedling production to harvesting. Continuous evolution cannot be attributed mainly and exclusively to the recognition of the demands and needs of the forestry sector, but in parallel with the planning and simultaneous and continuous development of applied scientific research.

Research, when developed and thought out, based on the demands arising from production processes, is the safest and most effective way to search for solutions and innovations. This is possible with the joint efforts of research institutions and the private sector. It is worth noting that this evolution is built gradually and, when based on science, technology and innovation management models, new solutions are proposed in the escalation framework in search of continuously more productive operational models. This would be a way of meeting the wishes of the industry, without leaving aside the conscious concern that the forestry sector carries in its DNA: a sustainable production model.

The modernization of the forestry sector today reaches the level of connectivity, where everything is connected and data is transferred in real time, from anywhere. The internet of things, telemetry and remote sensing are technologies that are transforming the way information is collected, transferred and analyzed. In this sense, the forestry sector has been ensuring and expanding its scope of action, crystallizing itself as a significantly competitive and innovative sector.

In this scenario of advancing methods and technologies, it becomes clear and evident that the Brazilian forestry sector remains aligned with what is most modern in the market, always attentive to new trends and available technologies. Some examples that guide such statements are the recent research and development initiatives in semi-autonomous equipment, which allow gains in productivity, or electric motorization, which aim to reduce the emission of pollutants. As protagonists, are all forestry professionals and multidisciplinary areas, who, through strategic partnerships, remain aware that new challenges are to come, but with the certainty that the sector is able and prepared to envision a new evolutionary milestone.