Preservation and Conservation of Natural Resources
Environmental Aspects of Forests
Brazil has one of the largest remnants of native forests in the world. Approximately 5.1 million square kilometers, half of the entire area of Europe, with different climate zones and biomes and that safeguard 20% of the planet's species.
The pulp and paper industry contributes to the preservation of ecosystems and the recovery of degraded areas by wisely managing 2.9 million hectares, equivalent to 2.9 million football fields of native vegetation (forests, grasslands, wetlands or low lands bordering water bodies) in particular in the area of the Atlantic rain forest. Preservation of these ecosystems is a guarantee of perpetuating environmental services essential to life.
In addition to preserving significant portions of natural ecosystems, companies of the sector play an important role in the recovery of areas degraded by other economic activities. All conservation actions, vegetal recovery, protection of springs and watercourses, among others, taken together, result in the creation of environments that favor biodiversity and other ecosystem services such as recreation, nutrient cycling, hydrological balance, carbon sequestration, among others.
It is important to emphasize that natural forests are not primarily planted to produce pulp and paper for industrial processes or generate biomass energy. All raw materials come from forests planted of pine and eucalyptus. The coexistence of planted forests and natural ecosystems allow the continuing benefits of natural forests simultaneously with forest production.
Planted forests are important pillars to achieve more sustainable development paradigms.
The Brazilian pulp and paper sector has always been more than willing to take actions related to biodiversity beyond the currently accepted business models.
Several scientific papers and studies evidence that forest plantations are used as corridors for wildlife to go from one forest fragment to the other, providing shelter and refuge for numerous fauna species. Birds, mammals, reptiles and other organisms are often drawn back to their original habitat. As a two-way street, health issues of plantations are associated with the preservation of the natural environment, once natural enemies of pests that cause problems to plantations, are also found in forests. In this perspective, landscape management is critical to ensuring biodiversity.
It is possible to balance productivity and preservation of biodiversity through the understanding of landscape concepts, ensuring connectivity among fragments and preserving natural areas.
The publication “Silvicultura e Biodiversidade” of the series Cadernos do Diálogo, Vol. 4, of the Diálogo Florestal Brasileiro has additional information on the relationship between biodiversity and forest production.
Forest management technology enables the formation of vegetation mosaics that intersperse industrial plantations (planted forests) and natural forests in a close and harmonious association, resulting in gains for biodiversity and productivity.
The concept of forest mosaics considers forest landscapes as "puzzles" of different land uses, using different landscape systems to plan production activities while, at the same time, protecting natural ecosystems and the services they provide. In terms of economic development and environmental preservation, planted forests coexist with other economic activities and occupy, in general, areas that are less suitable for agriculture, have low fertility or greater declivity.
For the most part, these areas have previously been covered by pastures of soil often exhausted. The mosaic strategy contributes to maximize the potential of preservation initiatives and the economic activities to generate income.
Integrated landscape planning is one of the strategies used that ensure the flow of biodiversity, the perpetuation of forest fragments to promote connectivity, and the protection of water resources and the soil.
Another publication of the Diálogo Florestal, “Mosaicos Florestas Sustentáveis” Forests", has guidelines on monitoring biodiversity and the restoration of the project "Iniciativa Mosaicos Florestais Sustentáveis", developed by institutions that participate in the Forest Dialogue in the states of Bahia and Espírito Santo.
The pulp and paper industry adopts stringent soil conservation processes to avoid erosion, replace nutrients and prevent soil depletion. Branches and leaves that fall to the ground warrant the cycling process of nutrients in the soil, accumulating organic matter and improving the soil’s physical structure. Important to emphasize is that forest plantations do not degrade the soil or make it improper to other economic activities.
Planting techniques and good operating practices also protect water resources and ensure the balance of the forests’ hydrological cycle, with positive consequences to the climate, the flora and fauna, and to productivity. Pulp and paper companies comply with the Brazilian Forest Code, which requires the protection of natural areas along the banks of watercourses, thus ensuring their protection. In many cases, the environmental criteria adopted by companies go far beyond legal requirements.
Moreover, water consumed by planted forests is equivalent to that of major agricultural crops. In areas of heavier rainfall, forest plantations favor the slower runoff of water to the rivers and to the groundwater, reducing the risk of flooding.
For more information about water consumption by silvicuture go to article “O eucalipto e a água”.