Producer Spotlight: Amazon Sustainable Forestry in Brazil
Meet the Organization Uplifting Communities, Investors, & the Planet
What is “Sustainable Forestry”?
While the term may sound like an oxymoron to some, sustainable forestry is a critical undertaking for our planet’s health. Sustainable forest management describes the practice of managing forests to meet society’s demands for resources, without compromising the health of these forests for future generations. Comprehensive approaches to sustaining forests take into account resource-dependent communities, biodiversity, and climate change.
This brings us to Amazon Sustainable Forestry Brazil, a company with an important statement to make:
The Amazon rainforest will only continue to survive as a functional ecosystem if it can be preserved permanently and shown to provide tangible economic benefits to the local communities that inhabit it.
A Few Facts and Figures
- Experts estimate that we are losing 137 plant, animal and insect species every single day due to rainforest deforestation. That equates to 50,000 species a year.
- Currently, 121 prescription drugs sold worldwide come from plant-derived sources; 25% of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest ingredients.
- Less that 1% of these tropical trees and plants have been tested by scientists. As the rainforest species disappear, so do many possible cures for life-threatening diseases.
- There were an estimated ten million indigenous people living in the Amazonian Rainforest five centuries ago. Today there are less than 200,000.
- In Brazil alone, European colonists have destroyed more than 90 indigenous tribes since the 1900s. With them have gone centuries of accumulated knowledge of the medicinal value of rainforest species. As their homelands continue to be destroyed by deforestation, rainforest peoples are also disappearing.
- Each time a rainforest medicine man dies, it is as if a library has burned down. If he has not passed his arts on to the next generation, the tribe and the world lose thousands of years of irreplaceable knowledge about medicinal plants.
- Today, 30% of the world’s animal and plant species are found in the Amazon.
- 30 million people, including 350 indigenous groups, live in the Amazon
- One-fifth of the world’s freshwater is in the Amazon Basin.
The Tipping Point
Within just the last four decades, the Brazilian Amazon rainforest has lost 800,000 square kilometers of surface area (the combined areas of the UK and France). Scientists have noticed that deforestation is leading to a failure of the forest ecosystem. Many believe we’re reaching a tipping point and that, if deforestation continues at current rates, the Amazon biome may cease to exist as a rainforest within a few decades.
The Amazon rainforest makes up a significant part of our planet’s lungs. It influences the global climate by drawing water from the earth and releasing moisture into the atmosphere. It is the world’s carbon sink, storing carbon dioxide and preventing it from entering the atmosphere and fueling climate change.
And if we do reach the tipping point and the rainforest does become a savanna-like region with semiarid vegetation, this will have significant consequences on weather patterns and wreak havoc on agricultural production around the world.
Enter Amazon Sustainable Forestry Brazil, the organization working to reverse this trend.
Amazon Sustainable Forestry Brazil
Through sustainable harvesting of our forests, along with reforestation plantations and energy self-sufficient sawmill operations, ASF seeks to revitalize millions of hectares of the Amazon and transform the lives of tens of thousands of people living there in suboptimal conditions.
A triple bottom line company, ASF:
- Protects the environment by preserving the forest cover and avoiding CO2 emissions (about 500 tons CO2 sequestered per hectare).
- Creates long-lasting employment and valuable social services for local communities.
- Delivers recurring financial returns to investors.
As a forestry management company, ASF Brazil’s success is predicated upon a multi-pronged strategy of acquiring land at depressed prices, and then preserving and transforming that land through sustainable harvesting and reforestation.
A full 80% of its properties are devoted to sustainable harvesting, while the remaining 20% serve as “reforestation plantations” for high-value exotic species like teak, mahogany, rosewood, and paricá.
The trees are sustainably processed into high-value products, providing much-needed employment and transforming communities in the Amazon.
ASF’s forestry activities are integrated with processing plants and grouped into “clusters” around a sawmill, effectively optimizing operations. Its objective is to build 10 clusters representing 2 million hectares of preserved and revitalized land, sequestering CO2 and restoring the region’s once-pristine biodiversity.
ASF has purchased and continues to purchase teak plantations, and is actively reforesting degraded land on existing properties. With over 500 employees, ASF Brazil is one of the largest private employers in the area.
ASF is committed to giving back to the communities where it operates. They aim to bring 30,000 jobs to indigenous communities along with the appropriate infrastructure—health, education, housing—to support them.
As they expand into more remote regions of the Amazon, ASF’s vision is to revitalize communities living at subsistence levels. Upon completion of their pilot 250,000-hectare cluster, ASF will have impacted the lives of almost 20,000 people!
Amazon Sustainable Forestry Brazil is uplifting local communities, investors, and the planet alike—socially, economically, and environmentally. Empowering communities along four different, but interrelated areas:
The effects of their work can be seen everywhere. After many years devoid of wildlife, land reforested by ASF has seen the return of the Amazon jaguar, once native to this region, but nearly disappeared due to rampant deforestation.
The Amazon rainforest is one of our world’s most important and valuable resources, yet for the longest time industry has seemed to be hostile to its very existence. Amazon Sustainable Forestry Brazil showcases a promising alternative—an inspiration for models that seek to give back, three-fold, and thrive.
To learn more about ASF Brazil, visit their Producers Market profile.