Brazil reforestation report highlights important trends in planted forest development
SEATTLE, WA, Jul. 18, 2011 (RISI) - One of the most useful sources of information on the development of planted forests in Brazil is the Annual Statistical Yearbook published by ABRAF, the Brazilian Association of Plantation Forest Producers. The 2011 report highlights a number of key trends in the development of planted forests in the country, for example:
- As with most countries around the world, the focus of new investments has all been on fast-growing hardwood species (in Brazil, of course, this means eucalyptus) rather than softwood species like pine.
- There has been a changing focus in Brazil in the regions of new planted forest development, away from the traditional regions and moving towards new "frontiers" (with relatively lower land costs).
- The Brazilian forest industry continues to increase the yields from its planted forest area, although this process is actually a relatively slow one, reflecting a long-term commitment by the industry, universities and the Brazilian Development Bank.
- The large forest companies are increasing the share of wood supply coming from leased lands and lands planted by outgrower schemes.
- Although the major focus in Brazil continues to be on eucalyptus, there are other species of interest being planted.
- The major driver of planted forest development continues to be the pulp and paper sector, but the consumption of eucalyptus for energy is also becoming more important.
Between 2000 and 2010, the area of eucalyptus planted forests in Brazil expanded by 4.8% annually, from less than 3.0 million ha in 2000 to nearly 4.8 million ha in 2010. In contrast, the total area of pine plantations in the country actually shrank slightly, dropping from 1.84 million ha in 2000 to 1.76 million ha in 2010, a 0.5% average annual decline. Pulp mills and steel companies have been planting eucalyptus to support their industrial expansions, and while TIMOs and other investors have acquired pine forests, their focus tends to be on existing plantations rather than establishing greenfield pine plantations. The regions of focus for new planted forest development have been shifting, with an increasing share of new eucalyptus planted forest being established in states like Mato Grosso do Sul, Maranhao, Tocantins and other non-traditional forest industry locations in the Center-West and Northeast regions of the country. While the largest area of new eucalyptus forest has been planted in the Southeast region of Brazil over the past five years, the eucalyptus area increased by just 23% in this region, compared with an increase of 124% in the Northeast region and 146% in the Center-West region.
Brazil is renowned for its fast-growing planted forests, and it is true that the average growth rate of eucalyptus and pine plantations is, on average, the fastest in the world. The mean annual increment (cubic meters of merchantable wood produced per hectare per year; MAI) of eucalyptus planted forests in Brazil has continued to expand, while it appears that MAI of pine forests has stagnated in recent years. Since 1980, the average MAI of eucalyptus planted forests in Brazil has increased by 72%, while the average of pine forests increased by about 98%.¹ While these gains are impressive, readers should understand that this has been achieved through many years of hard work. Importantly, large Brazilian companies, universities, BNDES (the Brazilian development bank) and the government have all worked together and invested large sums to achieve these gains. Promoters in some countries, touting their particular "super-trees," may make it sound easy to greatly accelerate forest growth, but actually doing this, on a sustainable basis, is a long process requiring significant investment.