Protecting natural forests in Brazil with biodiverse timber plantations
About the project:
Brazil's Atlantic Forest has suffered from severe degradation for years, and the timber industry has been a major culprit. One innovative timber company, Initiative 20x20 technical partner Symbiosis Investimentos, however, is restoring this fragile ecosystem while meeting rising global timber demand.
Over 553 hectares of land, Symbiosis has developed an innovative forestry system centered on planting high value commercial hardwood species, site-specific and native to the Atlantic Rain Forest, in combination with other tropical species. These other species have faster initial growth rates that provide partial shade for native species to flourish, control invasive grass species and generate early-stage revenue. The combination of tree species also provides habitat for endangered and threatened species.
Symbiosis recognizes that timber demand will only increase in the coming years. By planting biodiverse plantations of high-value hardwoods, the company can redirect pressure away from the few remaining primary forest and avoid further deforestation throughout Brazil. And Symbiosis doesn't only produce timber: For every three hectares planted for wood production, it conserves or restores two additional hectares. To reach that ambitious restoration goal, Symbiosis has established the first commercial plant breeding program for native species in Brazil and has collected a variety of species and genetic types to maximize biodiversity and ecosystem services. Now, the nursery produces over 500,000 seedlings per year.
By creating a business model that proves that high-value tree species can be produced on restored land, Symbiosis could revolutionize Brazil's timber industry. Symbiosis isn't stopping with the 1,500 hectares it currently owns. In 2019, it aims to cultivate a further 100 hectares and expand to a total of 5,000 hectares in the coming years.