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Wood traceability is critical to reduce deforestation

Proper management of tropical forests can encourage activities with social and economic benefits and reduce climate change. The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture proposes the extension of Brazil’s management area to 30 million hectares by 2030 and points out that this route will only be possible with the elimination of illegal activities in the production chain of native wood.

São Paulo, November 26, 2015 — A strong economy based on the rain forest is a relevant and feasible way to discourage illegal deforestation and, at the same time, improve the timber industry, promote social benefits and mitigate the effects of climate change.

On a large scale, the adequate management of Brazilian native forests can strengthen a tropical timber market that is totally legal, creating alternatives and opportunities for landowners and communities living near (or in) forest areas.

With the inclusion of the maintenance of carbon stocks to this scenario, we can conclude that this conduct is fully aligned with the Brazilian contributions for dealing with climate change (INDC) and with the expansion of an economic activity that has environment and mankind as priorities.

Therefore, The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture proposes that the area of sustainable forest management in Brazil is ten times increased in relation to the current situation, reaching 30 million hectares by 2030. This volume would cover the demand for tropical wood. “To give you an idea, this area is equivalent to about 7% of the Amazon forest. In other words, to promote the management of a small fraction of the forest would have a low impact and would also contribute to the preservation of the remaining 93%”, says Roberto Waack, Chairman of the Board of Amata.

The main challenge to convert this proposal into reality is to end the illegal activities in the supply chain. It is estimated that 80% of the wood sold in the country — such as ipê, maçaranduba, cumaru and about other 30 species with commercial potential — are commercialized through illegal activities. “Besides being highly predatory in environmental terms, illegality fosters an unfair marketing scenario because those who are seeking responsible economic activities find it difficult to get their space in the market”, says Elizabeth Carvalhaes, Executive Chairman of Ibá (Brazilian Tree Industry) and Chairman of the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA).

Transparency and monitoring

To change this situation, The Brazilian Coalition proposes a sequence of actions, starting with more transparency in the approval of management plans. “The exploration permits for native trees must be transparent to society, and its georeferencing and information on species and volumes must be widely publicized. So it will be possible to monitor the legality of forest management areas and also the quality of timber removal operations”, adds Marco Lentini, Coordinator of the Amazônia Program by WWF Brasil. “And this is not difficult. There are already useful satellite tracking tools that help to monitor the progress of the management plan, as well as systems able to ensure that production is tracked effectively.”

Therefore, it will be crucial to track wood activities. “The strengthening of the economy based on the rain forest depends on traceability. It is a complement to the measures of control and monitoring of existing deforestation”, explains Maurício Voivodic, Executive Secretary of Imaflora (Institute of Agricultural and Forest Management and Certification). “Transport also needs to be tracked because of the departure and arrival points. Similarly, it is necessary to monitor activities in sawmills, where wood from unproven origins can be used along with legal material.”

Moreover, consumers should ask for a proof of the origin of the products. The Brazilian Coalition proposes that the timber traceability is treated as a condition in public procurements, for example, housing and infrastructure programs. “If the government takes the lead, the private sector will follow”, says Pedro Moura Costa, Chairman of Instituto BVRio.

Inclusion through knowledge

In addition to traceability, we must invest in technology, research and development of native species, as well as labor force qualification. “The qualification will allow the local population to benefit from the resources in a sustainable way, rather than a predatory and short-term manner, as it has been happening”, says Paulo Barreto, Senior Researcher at Imazon (Institute of Man and Environment of the Amazon).

Thus, a proper forest management would contribute to Brazil’s goals set in the world climate agreement: to eliminate illegal deforestation by 2030. “When looking at the forest with an economic, social and environmental vision, we realize its value and that it is not necessary to replace it with other activities”, says José Luciano Penido, Chairman of the Board of Fibria Celulose. There are other gains: the so-called ecosystem services that forests provide, such as soil conservation and water security. “We can meet the deforestation goal much earlier. There is no need to wait 15 years for this.”

Since much of the native wood sold in Brazil is commercialized through illegal activities, The Brazilian Coalition considers it necessary to encourage the gradual transition of those involved in the industry — timber sector, carriers and sawmills — to a legal status.

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