National forests help to ease the pressures of deforestation if managed correctly
The pressure of deforestation on the Amazon Forest is immense – and it is increasing. According to a report published by the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment (MMA), 7,900 square kilometres of Amazon forest were cleared between August 2017 and July 2018, representing a 13.7% increase from the year before.
7,900 sq km
In order to combat this longstanding trend, the MMA initiated the Forest Management for Sustainable Production in the Amazon project in 2012 with the support of the German development cooperation agency (BMZ) through KfW, the German development bank. NIRAS-IP Consult, in partnership with Detzel Consulting, has been supporting the Brazilian Forestry Service (SFB) and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) in the implementation of the project since September 2014.
In reducing deforestation and promoting the sustainable economic use of forests, the project aims to conserve resources for generations to come. As part of these efforts, we are providing support to manage 24 national forests, Floresta Nacional or Flona for short. Flonas are protected areas where no logging can take place unless governed by a concession, a legal instrument which gives selected companies the right to use natural resources in a sustainable and ecologically sound fashion.
Flonas are category VI protected areas according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – meaning that ecosystems and habitats are conserved while simultaneously respecting local needs to utilise natural resources in sustainable ways.
Concessions are the key
The Flonas are located in the region around the Purus and Madeira Rivers in the southwest of the Amazon Basin, as well as along highway BR-163 connecting Cuiabá and Santarem. This area represents the “arc of deforestation”, a section of the forest which is under the most severe threat from poor use of resources and illegal logging.
To reduce deforestation and promote sustainable forest management in these areas, NIRAS-IP Consult has worked to strengthen the regional structure of the SFB and provide ICMBio with the infrastructure necessary to administer and monitor the Flonas. Furthermore, the project aims to increase the number of Flonas under concession, reducing illegal logging and mining and providing local companies with incentives to manage the forests sustainably.
Holding a forest concession gives the contractor the right to extract timber and non-timber products up to a certain level, but also obliges the concessionary to protect and conserve the Flona. By April 2018, the project has supported the demarcation of nine Flonas as well as the development of two management plans; six of the Flonas within the project area are currently under concession.
Supporting the local economy while conserving the forest
The concession of the Flona de Altamira demonstrates the benefits of well-managed, sustainable forest concessions to reduce deforestation in the Amazon. The forest is located along the highway BR-163, one end of which travels through the state of Mato Grosso in what once was dense rainforest and now is the centre of Brazilian agri-business. It continues to western Pará, a troubled area where representatives of the logging industry, agri-business, cattle farming, illegal mining, indigenous peoples, locals, and environmental agencies and NGOs regularly clash.
The concession is held by Patauá Florestal SPE, an entity created by five local entrepreneurs – all owners of small and medium-sized enterprises within the timber industry – for the sole purpose of managing the concession of the national forest. As the wood is processed within the vicinity of the town of Morais Almeida, Patauá and its partners currently employ around 500 people directly in a variety of roles: management of the concession, logging, wood processing, and logistics. Further, an estimated 1,500 jobs have been created indirectly in businesses supplying goods and services to the forest sector.
Patauá supports the local economy, driving up standards of living and reducing precarity among the 10,000 inhabitants of the town. Since the start of the concession in 2016, illegal deforestation within the Flona has stopped completely, while outside of the protected area it remains an issue. This showcases how a locally managed concession can not only improve economic outcomes, but also reduce deforestation and support the ICMBio in monitoring the national forests.
Update: after four successful years of support to SFB and ICMBio, the project has been extended for two more years. Read the news here.