Mark Schulze, James Grogan & Edson Vidal. 2018.  Technical challenges to sustainable forest management in the concession of public lands in the Brazilian Amazon.  Journal of Sustainable Forestry (Volume 26, Issue 1.  Pages 61-76/).


Brazil’s new Public Forests law authorizes concessions-based industrial forest management in Amazonian national public forests covering 13 million hectares within the next decade, expanding eventually to 50 million hectares or an area, the size of Spain. Both logging and conservation industries have promoted concessions management as a solution to chaotic land tenure and widespread illegal logging in the Brazilian Amazon. Here we evaluate technical aspects of actually managing concession forests at the proposed spatial scale and time-frame. The current best-practices logging system in Amazonia, reduced-impact logging (RIL), is not widely employed by the logging industry and does not ensure sustained-yield timber production in the absence of silvicultural practices promoting growth and regeneration in logged stands. Current legislated logging standards—for example, maximum per unit area harvest intensity, minimum diameter felling limit, seed tree retention rate, and 25- to 35-year cutting cycles—guarantee commercial depletion or extirpation of many high-value timber species over multiple cutting cycles. An estimated 10,450 field technicians will need to be trained in best-practices forest management within the next decade in order to adequately staff the proposed Brazilian Forest Service whose mandate it will be to oversee this vast undertaking, to expand field staff of the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) and of state environmental agencies whose responsibility it is to regulate forest management, and to provide trained workers for the logging industry operating within concessions. What “sustainable forest management” means to various audiences must be clarified, and common ground identified among these audiences specifically addressing demands that will be made on national forests. Forest management systems integrating both operational and silvicultural practices must then be developed according to regional and local forest conditions. This will require renewed investment in technical research and capacity building, serving both the logging industry and government agencies charged with ensuring industry adherence to national forest legislation.

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