A study by Brazil’s non-governmental organization, Imazon (the Amazonian Institute for Man and the Environment), indicates growth in Amazonian wood exports together with a reduction in the number of trees cut down. The study will be presented this week in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies.
According to Imazon researcher Adalberto Veríssimo, the diagnosis of the wood sector in the Amazon region in 2004 led to three conclusions. First, the drop in wood consumption in comparison with 1998, when the institute conducted a similar study. In 1998 Brazil extracted 28 million cubic meters of wood from the Amazon region.
“We lowered the volume of logs extracted to 25 million cubic meters; that is, we reduced our raw material consumption,” Veríssimo observes; nevertheless, “we maintained the same level of processed wood products, that is, boards, planks, flooring, and decks.”
Consequently, 3 million cubic meters of wood were economized in the production of the same final volume. “To give you some idea, this means that we saved approximately 950 thousand trees.”
The second piece of information is that Amazonian wood exports, which were worth US$ 350 million in 1998, jumped to around US$ 1 billion in 2004.
The Imazon researcher says that this made Amazonian wood exports equivalent to the Vale do Rio Doce Company’s iron ore exports.
The third result, according to Veríssimo, is that “the Amazon region also increased its production of processed wood (flooring, ceilings, and furniture) from something on the order of only US$ 12 million to around US$ 180 million.”
The researcher says, however, that the country still needs to deal with the land ownership issue in the region.
“For the Amazon to have an economically competitive level of forest production, we need to have a set of legal regulations that reinforce the legality of wood production in the region.”
He is in favor of increasing the international market share of Amazonian wood with products that contain aggregated value and are ecologically correct.
“To accomplish this, the question of land ownership, which is currently the principal bottleneck to the development of the Amazon, must be faced.”
Regarding the public forests management bill drafted by the Ministry of Environment, Veríssimo considers it a watershed proposal.
“If it is approved, it will respond to the sense of urgency of the Amazon.”
In his opinion, the project has the support of social, environmental, and entrepreneurial sectors in the region.
“It was a broad pact on behalf of legality and the establishment of a regulatory mark that can set a new course for production in the Amazon.”
Translation: David Silberstein