Me chame no WhatsApp Agora!

Sergio Lopes dos Santos

Innovation and Forest Quality Coordinator of the Veracel


Mata Atlântica program

Over time, ecological restoration has come to be considered a strategy for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem integrity, generating ecosystem goods and services. In order to restore ecosystems that suffered disturbances on large scales and intensities (not returning to a state of dynamic equilibrium), there is a need to carry out ecological restoration projects. The importance of these projects is indisputable for the reestablishment of ecological processes and for the formation of functional and sustainable forests.

Here, we seek, in a simple and objective way, to share reflections, information and practices that, in some way, can contribute to all people interested in environmental issues and their preservation. The success of any restoration project involving forest plantations depends on numerous factors, such as the choice of species to be used; appropriate climate and soil conditions; knowledge about ecology; restoration methods; the quality of seedlings, soil preparation and fertilization; planting and cultural practices; prevention and control of pests, diseases and weed competition; species diversity; the interaction between plants and animals; the ecological and physiological characteristics of the species; shade tolerance; the understanding of the dynamics of tropical forests, among other factors.

The understanding of the functionality of natural ecosystems involves the development of appropriate technologies for different environmental, economic and sociocultural contexts, to the elaboration of sustainability indicators capable of facilitating the monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of the intervention carried out.

With a view to seeking improvements in the ecological restoration process of Veracel 's already established Mata Atlântica Program, the Forestry Research and Development, Quality and Sustainability areas jointly sought to evaluate the application of eucalyptus management indicators in restoration operations ecological, especially in monitoring and managing the quality of operations.

In our view, there are good output indicators (survival index, diversity index, growth index, etc.) to measure the effectiveness of restoration programs. However, there is still a large margin for evolution in the management of processes in ecological restoration, especially in the structuring of operational and quality indicators, in the adoption of new management practices, new sustainable and ecologically recommended inputs, among other opportunities.

In the restoration planning phase, the characterization of the vegetation in the area is favored by the use of technologies such as the LiDAR sensor, satellite images, geotechnologies and drones, which are complemented by field assessments, also considering proximity to forest fragments, edaphoclimatic aspects and ideal planting period. Thus, the most appropriate methodology for the site is established taking into account the characteristics of the environment at the historical moment of land use and occupation and environmental aspects around the area to be restored.

The evaluation of seedling quality is an important factor and must consider aspects such as root formation, rusticity, height, phytosanitary aspects, size, substrate, among other requirements. In the soil preparation phases (manual or mechanized), spacing between pits, strips, cores and pit depth are monitored.

At planting, the centralization of the seedling in the hole, mechanical damage to the seedlings, stem drowning, dosage and application of planting gel and general care, such as substrate exposure, are evaluated. In fertilization operations, attention should be paid to measuring the recommended dosage and the proper location for applying the fertilizer.

In the control of weed competition, pests and diseases, the continuous support of the Research area and Development is essential, especially for the technical recommendation of low environmental impact solutions. Survival assessments can be enhanced with the use of drones.

As important as structuring good indicators for managing the quality of operations, it is defining management rituals for constant critical analysis of results, preferably with the participation of a multidisciplinary team (Sustainability, Operations, Research and Development), in order to guarantee that opportunities identified areas of improvement are quickly addressed.

For there to be an effective process of restoring the degraded ecosystem to a condition that creates means of restoring local connectivity and the landscape, it is also necessary to consider the importance of qualification and constant technical improvement of the operational teams, in addition to the tireless search for solutions that are more advanced in terms of health, safety and ergonomics for field crews. The collection of information in quality monitoring is carried out using data collectors, and the statistical control of the process is structured in Power BI reports.

Our experience has shown that there are numerous opportunities to transfer knowledge and expertise obtained with the already established management of eucalyptus for the management of native species in ecological restoration programs, through the improvement of procedures and operational technical instructions, the definition of critical success indicators, the critical analysis of results and their frequent review, update and improvement (dynamic process).

In addition, it was possible to observe that there are opportunities in the use of new and established technologies adopted in the management of the Eucalyptus for management operations and ecological restoration. As an example, the adoption of drones in specialized operations, the use of a fleet management system for proper monitoring and control of machines and equipment (real-time monitoring, telemetry, location, productivity, operational efficiency and mechanical availability), among others.

Improving the management of ecological restoration involves, above all, the establishment of partnerships with universities, research centers and innovation ecosystems, working groups in partnership with public and private institutions and the integrated action of the areas of Sustainability, Operations, Planning, Research and Development, in the search for new solutions and technologies. From the point of view of new perspectives, the true journey of discovery does not consist only in moving towards new frontiers, but, above all, in seeing with new eyes the opportunities in managing the quality of operations in processes in ecological restoration.