Exotic Brazilian Wood Products

Native trees and wood have always played an important role in Brazil’s economic and social development. This goes all the way back to the discovery of Brazil, when the nation was named after the highly valued reddish wood, Pau-Brasil, which was extracted until extinct. In the 20th century, the government's development incentives increased the destruction of the forests, especially in the interior and in the Amazon region, with the building of paved roads and hydroelectric power plants, colonization projects, and the expansion of cattle raising and pastures.
This situation began to change with the increasing pressure by Brazilians and international organizations. The first time an environmental policy was written into Brazil's constitution was on October 5, 1988. Since then, many governmental agencies have been created to supervise and organize environment control in such a way that it would care for the environment and stimulate the nation's development.
The Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis or IBAMA), Brazil's main environmental agency, was created in February 1989, under jurisdiction of the Minister of Environment. Its main mission includes organizing the use of Brazil's forestry resources; supervising the ecosystem, species and the country’s natural genetic heritage; protecting and promoting the management of Brazilian native species; and promoting the sustainable use of Brazil’s natural resources.

Today, the production of wood in the Amazon has to meet the norms of the Sustainable Forest Management Plan and the resources can only be exploited in a sustainable manner or under authorized deforestation practices. The harvest of wood also has to respect the sustainability of the ecosystem as a whole, be economically viable, environmentally correct and socially fair.

The Sustainable Forest Management Plan, derived from the Brazilian Forestry Code of 1965, states that, “It is forbidden to exploit the primary forests of the Amazonian basin without appropriate planning. These resources may only be used under the technical plans for conduct and management, established by the government….”empresa

Today’s wood producers are required to conduct forest surveys in their reserves, create natural regeneration and forestry treatment projects, and follow the 30 years extraction cycle. The managed area should be divided in land parcels, and the size of each parcel that is used in the production of wood is determined by Ibama guidelines that are in proportion to the size of the area as a whole. According to the preservation guidelines, after harvesting wood on a parcel, the piece of land may only be harvested for wood again 30 years later. Under the same law, areas that have been previously deforested and are no longer producing wood may not be deforested.

Check under Useful Links for a list of web sites with more information on forestry and environment legislation.