Suzano Pulp and Paper and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the world’s largest environmental organization, announce the expansion of their partnership through measures aimed at rehabilitation of the Mucuri River springs. Through the “Mucuri River Springs Project”, which was formalized in late October, Suzano and TNC intend to guarantee the perpetuity of the river and to foster initiatives to protect water sources.
During the first stage of the project, which will start at the end of this year, a diagnostic will be made of the situation in each restoration chain; this will result in a plan indicating what actions are needed to restore the vegetation surrounding the headwaters of the Mucuri River. During this stage, the degree of environmental degradation on the riverbanks and at the sources of the Mucuri River will be assessed, along with issues considered structural for recovery of the forests, such as the availability of seedlings and labor, for example.
Starting in the first half of next year, measures such as the recomposition of native forest at these sites should be put into practice, while a focus is maintained on effective results in the medium and long term. These initiatives will be part of the Strategic Plan for Forest Restoration (PERF), which will be drafted by TNC.
“Our goal with this project is, in addition to helping ensure the perpetuity of the Mucuri River, to create an environment that encourages the preservation of springs in the country,” explains Alexandre Di Ciero, Executive Manager for Sustainability at Suzano Pulp and Paper. “We’re going beyond simple execution of the project. Our perception is that this project can create an environment that fosters this culture of spring recovery, and with this we can involve the participation of other actors in this initiative,” adds Di Ciero.
To guarantee that the project will create a social and environmental legacy, Suzano Pulp and Paper and TNC will seek partnerships with other companies, public administrations, and NGOs which have expertise in the area of the environment. Together, TNC and Suzano want to map the risks of forest restoration, the actors who are already operating in the region, and the existing infrastructure in order to ensure forests play an important role in preserving the headwaters of rivers.
According to TNC, the choice of the site to launch the project is explained by the location of the Mucuri River basin. The region contains remnants of Atlantic forest, one of the most diverse biomes on the planet, which currently occupies only 12% of its original area in Brazil.
For Suzano, the objectives extend beyond its borders. While the Mucuri River is important for supplying the company’s industrial unit located in the municipality of Mucuri, Bahia, several communities in the region also live along the river and many people like fishermen, farmers, and riverside dwellers depend on the Mucuri for their income.
“The main highlight of this partnership is the strategic vision of identifying the importance of preserving a basin, not just the areas near operations. It is essential that companies look beyond their ‘walls’ and also create an environment of mobilization and social inclusion,” says Rubens Benini, Manager of Restoration at TNC. “TNC’s idea is that successful experiences can be replicated in other regions, including the Doce River basin,” he adds.
Suzano Pulp and Paper is a reference in preserving native areas. The company is the second largest producer of eucalyptus pulp in the world and Latin America’s largest paper manufacturer; it maintains 480,000 hectares of conservation areas including Neblinas Park, a reserve which protects the diversity of the Atlantic forest as well as 400 springs.
The company also sustains the Ecofuturo Institute, a civil society organization of public interest (OSCIP) charged with expanding social and environmental consciousness. Furthermore, through its forests Suzano Pulp and Paper helps remove 18 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.
TNC, which based in the United States, operates in more than 35 countries including almost all of Latin America. The objective of this environmental organization is environmental conservation, in a movement where development and production take place side-by-side with environmental conservation. Today TNC protects approximately 55 million hectares worldwide, in addition to thousands of kilometers of rivers and marine areas.
A long-term partnership
The partnership between Suzano and TNC began in 2008, when the pulp and paper manufacturer created an action plan to manage biodiversity in areas of native forest in the company’s own forest properties. This partnership can also be seen in the Plant a Billion Trees Project, which consists of a set of actions for forest restoration in Brazil, China, and the United States.
In Brazil alone, the program has helped recover more than 11,000 hectares, the equivalent of more than 29 million native trees. TNC’s focus in Brazil is to restore conservation areas in Brazil’s distinct biomes, in areas which are priorities for improving water and food security.