WWF's project in Brazil leads companies towards sustainable forests and plantations
WWF work with pulp and paper companies to develop and promote best practices in plantation management.
Submitted by: Vince Collins
Earlier WWF (World Wildlife Fund) used to be very critical of plantation forestry but nowadays it also sees the opportunity plantations can provide. Plantations can have a positive impact on biodiversity on a landscape level when those are established on degraded areas. Plantation forestry is also aligning with UPM's principle of “more with less” - and thus helping in the pressure of land use in the respective countries and regions.
Brazil was the venue for the 2012, New Generation Plantations (NGP) Project, annual meeting and study tour. NGP is a platform for WWF to work with companies such as UPM to develop and promote best practices in plantation management.
UPM was a founder participant in the project and have shared best practice from their plantations in both Uruguay and the UK. It is also a great opportunity to learn from other companies and to improve plantation management.
This study tour was jointly led by the three big Brazilian pulp companies – Fibria, Suzano and Veracel who between them have almost a million hectares of Eucalyptus plantations.
All the plantations visited were on degraded grazing land, which had been rainforest as recently as 30 years ago. The quality of the grazing had declined rapidly as the fragile forest soils were quickly eroded without tree cover. The new plantations go together with carefully planned rainforest restoration projects, the plantations are on the flat open ground and local trees along the steeper valley sides. The diversity of tree species planted is amazing with over 60 different species being planted to start the slow process of restoration.
All three companies work closely together on sustainability issues, both in the creation, management and monitoring of these restoration networks and also engaging with local social groups. What was clear from the NGP study tour was, that it was only the companies that really engaged with sustainability that were ultimately sustainable . After investing hugely in their pulp mills all three companies needed to secure long-term stable supplies of wood, and a key element of this was working with local communities and committing whole heartedly to forest certification schemes like FSC and initiatives such as NGP.
In November of this year, the South American regional group of NGP will visit UPM plantations in Uruguay, and UPM can demonstrate and discuss how they sustainably manage plantations with a very different set of challenges and opportunities to those seen in Brazil.
NGP is just one of several platforms where UPM works closely with a major organisation like WWF, it enables them to participate at the various highest levels in developing and fine tuning best practices for managing sustainable forests and plantations.