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23. Progress towards RIL adoption in Brazil and Bolivia: driving forces and implementation successes - Geoffrey M. Blate*, Francis E. Putz** and Johan C. Zweede***


* Corresponding author, E-mail: gblate@botany.ufl.edu

** Botany Department, University of Florida, P.O. Box 118526, Gainesville, FL 32611-8526, E-mail: fep@botany.ufl.edu

*** Fundação Floresta Tropical, Tv. 14 de Abril #1464, CEP 66063-140, Belém, Pará, Brazil, E-mail:76734.3524@compuserve.com

INTRODUCTION

Many tropical countries have designated large proportions of their forests for timber production because of the enormous economic potential. Although forests managed for timber will not replace protected areas as storehouses of biodiversity, they can be a key component of landscape-level conservation strategies if they are managed well (Putz et al., 2000a). These premises have led international development agencies to promote better forest management in the tropics. Reduced impact logging (RIL)[28] is considered the first step in this direction (e.g. Hendrison, 1990; Pinard and Putz, 1996; Uhl et al., 1997; Holmes et al., in press).

RIL provides standards for mitigating the forest management (FM) activity (i.e. timber harvesting) that causes the greatest ecological impact and, as such, is considered a necessary (though not sufficient) step towards achieving sustainable forest management (Holmes et al., in press). RIL reduces soil and canopy damage (Johns et al., 1996; Pinard and Putz, 1996), future crop tree mortality (Holmes et al., in press), and the likelihood of catastrophic fires (Holdsworth and Uhl, 1997). Thus, RIL is a key component of forest management FM[29].

Despite consistent results regarding the ecological benefits of RIL, results from studies comparing the financial benefits of RIL with conventional logging (CL) vary. One study from Southeast Asia found that RIL costs substantially more to implement than conventional practices (Tay, 1999). In contrast, most studies from South America have shown that RIL is financially competitive with CL (Barreto et al., 1998; Boltz, 1999; Holmes et al., in press; BOLFOR unpublished data). The results from Brazil and Bolivia highlight the cost savings that result from increased operational efficiency as well as the marketing benefits that result from planning.

Bolivia and Brazil[30] have made substantial progress towards RIL implementation in recent years, but RIL practices are far from universal in either country. Various factors explain the persistence of these poor practices (Putz et al., 2000b). This paper aims to address three principal questions: (a) Which producers are adopting RIL? (b) what specific RIL elements are being adopted? and (c) what factors are motivating or impeding the adoption of RIL?

The information presented here is based on our collective field experience and open-ended interviews with individuals working in the forest sector in each country. We interviewed 12 people in Brazil (including four company owners and three foresters) and 13 in Bolivia (including four company foresters). The four Bolivian companies[31] hold concessions - located in all three principal forest types (dry, transitional and wet forest) - covering about one million hectares. The area represented by the seven Brazilian companies[32] interviewed is about 800 000 ha.

BACKGROUND

Brazil: geography, land-use trends and forest ownership

The Brazilian Amazon (~500 million ha) accounts for about 60 percent of Brazil’s total land area and nearly 90 percent of its remaining natural forests. The Amazon Basin is the most diverse terrestrial region on earth and provides numerous goods and services at local, regional and global scales. About 75 percent of the Brazilian Amazon’s land area is forested (Lele et al., 2000). About 15 percent has been cleared for cattle ranching and agriculture and an unknown but substantial proportion has been burned (Nepstad et al., 1999). The mean annual deforestation rate in 2000 was nearly 17 000 km2 with about 80 percent of this conversion occurring along the southern and eastern perimeters (INPE, 2000) and within 50 km of the Amazon’s four major road networks (Lele et al., 2000). Hunting (e.g. Robinson and Bennett, 2000) and a marked increase in fire frequency (e.g. Cochrane et al., 1999) also cause large-scale forest degradation.

It is difficult to make generalizations about appropriate land uses in the Amazon. Much of the remaining upland forest is on highly weathered, infertile soils that render the land unsuitable for extensive permanent agriculture (e.g. cattle ranching). A recent study (Schneider et al., 2000) concluded that 83 percent of the remaining upland area is better suited for forestry activities rather than agriculture or cattle ranching, land uses the government subsidized for many years. Kauffman and Uhl (1990) estimated that the area appropriate for forestry has a commercial timber stock of about 60 billion m3. With few exceptions, however, the government has not zoned areas according to optimal land uses, a task complicated by the complex and conflicting patterns of ownership.

Although indigenous and extractive reserves, protected areas and national forests cover sizable areas, private individuals, families, or large companies own much of the remaining forestland in Brazil. The government established national forests more than 20 years ago in part because of their potential for timber production, but also to protect mineral resources. Although early efforts to focus timber production in the national forests foundered (because of agricultural subsidies and the availability of cheap timber from land clearing), the Brazilian forest service (IBAMA) is keen to establish a stronger system of national production forests. The government is also relaxing policies prohibiting forest management for timber production in indigenous communities. Despite these trends, most of the activities in the Brazilian forest sector occur on private land.

Bolivia: Development challenges

Bolivia contains some of the largest and most diverse tracts of intact tropical and subtropical forests outside of Brazil. Bolivia’s 48 million ha of natural forests cover nearly 50 percent of the country and include dense evergreen forests in the north (wet Amazonian forest), deciduous and semi-deciduous forests in the eastern lowlands (dry and transitional forest) and submontane moist and wet forests in the Andean foothills (Pacheco, 1998). An extensive system of reserves protects large and representative portions of the country’s forests.

One of the greatest development challenges facing Bolivia is its geography. Commerce is limited by the fact that the Andes occupy the western third of the country and the Amazon the northern fourth. These features have slowed the development of a transportation network. Coupled with a relatively low human population concentrated in the altiplano, this has helped to keep Bolivia’s deforestation rates relatively low (~2 000 km2 or 0.3 percent/yr; cf. Fredericksen, 2000) until recently.

During the past few years especially, an expanding road network, subsidies for large-scale mechanized agriculture and increased migration from the altiplano to the lowlands have accelerated forest clearing (Fredericksen, 2000). The weak judicial system increases the risk of invasion by these migrants into forests (private, indigenous and concessions) and causes a general state of land insecurity. Fires associated with agriculture and ranching add to the insecurity felt by many forest owners. Fires have destroyed or degraded massive forest areas; 1.6 million ha burned in one month in 1999 alone (Cordero, 2000).

Like Brazil, Bolivia suffers from a host of land ownership conflicts and land-use zoning problems. Although most of the country has been surveyed for best land uses according to soil characteristics, this information is either poorly used or not used at all (Pacheco, 1998). The overlap of indigenous territory and forest concessions is commonplace (Fredericksen, 2000). Many concessions are also located within a mosaic of agricultural fields and cattle ranches, a situation that increases fire risk.

The growth of the forest sector

Brazil

Brazil is the largest timber producer in South America and the largest tropical wood consumer in the world. In the Brazilian Amazon, the forest sector employed about 5 percent of the region’s workforce (~500 000 people) and generated about US$2.2 billion in 1998 (Lele et al., 2000). About 90 percent of Brazil’s hardwood production comes from the Amazon (Schneider et al., 2000) and 90 percent (~34 million m3 annually) is consumed domestically (Table 1). Although the forestry sector only comprises a small percentage of Brazil’s total economy, it figures prominently in the Amazon’s economy. Between 1993 and 1995, most people employed in the sector were involved in extraction operations in natural forests (Lele et al., 2000).

Recently, Brazil has developed new national policies supporting the continued development of the forestry sector. The government wants to increase its share of well-managed forest and certified timber on world markets by 10 percent in the next few years. In addition, the government launched a new National Forest Program (PNF) in September 2000. The PNF aims to establish more than 20 million ha of Amazon forest for sustained timber production and to reforest 600 000 ha per year with much of the effort occurring in the Amazon. Recognition of the importance of forestry to the Amazon economy, and the provision of federal support for the sector, are relatively recent phenomena.

Until the mid-1970s, logging in the Amazon was mainly an extractive activity occurring in the varzea (flooded forest), despite a major FAO initiative 20 years earlier to promote forest management in the uplands (Pitt, 1969; Knowles, 1971). Typically, people living along rivers extracted relatively few trees (3-5 m3/ha) by hand from the varzea causing minimal environmental impact[33] (Uhl and Vieira, 1989; J.C. Zweede, pers. obs.). Spurred by government subsidies for roads, colonization programs and agricultural development, migrants with mechanized equipment moved from southern and eastern Brazil to the Amazon’s upland forests[34]. In these uplands, landowners did not view forest management for timber production as a viable activity; the forest was an impediment to development and the government provided financial incentives to clear forest. High-grading of forests reduced the amount of material to be cleared and helped fund the process of land conversion to cattle ranching.

Table 1. Forest sector characteristics of the Bolivian and Brazilian Amazon

Characteristic

Bolivia

Brazil

Source

Population (million)

8.1

165

Bolivia: World Bank 2000; Brazil: estimates predict population in the Amazon will be 27 million by 2010 (Lele et al. 2000)

1998 GNP/capita (US$)

1 000

4 800

Bolivia: World Bank 2000; Brazil: Lele et al. 2000

Land ownership

>80 percent concessions held by private companies; remainder TCO, ASL, and private land

> 90 percent private (including unclaimed federal land); national and state forest system being promoted

Bolivia: Superintendencia Forestal 2000; Brazil: Schneider et al. 2000

Distance (km) to market or port

Wet: >1 500; Transition: <500; dry: <1 000

West: >2 000; South: >1 200: East: <500

Bolivia: GM Blate pers obs.; Brazil: JC Zweede pers obs.

1999 timber production (1 000 m3)

690

66 885

Both: ITTO 1999; Brazil’s include plantation production from southern Brazil

1999 wood exports (percent of total production)

12.6

2.8

Both: ITTO 1999. Brazil’s figure include southern Brazil

In the late 1970s and 1980s, cheap resources along the new roads and colonization schemes drove the rapid expansion of timber-product industries (Veríssimo et al., 1992). Few species were exported and most of the lesser-known species were sold at low prices in local markets. In the 1990s, relatively high prices for timber products and decreasing availability of Asian plywood allowed the Brazilian plywood industry to grow extremely fast, utilizing many of these poorly known species for export. As a result, timber procurement began expanding from areas near highways and the frontier into the whole Amazon Basin.

By the early 1990s, reduction in subsidies for agriculture and new laws passed in the late 1980s that regulated forest use began to limit the hitherto free natural resource available to the burgeoning industrial sector (Holloway, 1993). During this period, IBAMA instituted a variety of new regulations. In particular, it began to demand forest management plans from producers. Lacking practical experience in FM-RIL, most producers could not implement their “sustained yield forest management plans.” Most plans existed mainly on paper, and the few that were implemented were technically flawed. As late as 1997, most management plans approved by IBAMA were mere formalities and actual practices continued to degrade forests (EMBRAPA, 1997). Despite this dire situation, certain parts of the sector have improved (see below).

Bolivia

Much of Bolivia’s natural forest is state owned and the government, which controls its use, has designated about half (~28 million ha) for timber production. This designation is based in part on land-use suitability and in part on available timber volumes. Despite the apparent rationality of such a zoning scheme, forest management was practically nonexistent prior to the mid 1990s because the forestry sector focused on three high value, but sparsely distributed, species: mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), cedar (Cedrela odorata) and Spanish oak (Amburana cearensis). This selectivity resulted in low yields (~0.25 m3/ha) and much of the value of the timber was lost through poor felling practices and inefficient extraction and processing (Gullison et al., 1996). The extensive search for these species benefited relatively few individuals, but opened large expanses of forest for exploitation; few forest areas in Bolivia have been unaffected by these practices.

Given Bolivia’s weak economy and lack of institutional capacity, forestry regulation has historically been ineffective. Furthermore, promoting sustainable forest management was a low priority in national-level policies. The 1974 forestry law prohibited log exports in an attempt to develop value-added processing. But the law, and the regulatory agency created to enforce it were inadequate and management plans, and management were practically nonexistent (Fredericksen, 2000). Finally, in the mid-1990s, the increasing scarcity of the most valuable species, along with new institutions and legislation markedly changed the industry’s practices.

In 1996, the government passed a strict forestry law (BOLFOR/MDSMA, 1997) that mandates environmentally sound management practices in all production forests. Among the many specific prescriptions codified in the legislation itself and in the technical guidelines that followed it are harvesting restrictions based on the principle of sustainable yield. Forest management enterprises[35], must submit a multiyear forest management plan (FMP) and annual operating plans (POA). Harvesting rights depend upon the approval of both FMPs and POAs by the Superintendencia Forestal (SF), a new forest service created by the law. Inventories, covering one percent of the entire forest area under the FMP, as well as 100 percent censuses[36], covering the annual management unit, are required. In the census, companies must report densities and volumes of all species they intend to harvest. The provisions for seed trees (20 percent of individuals above the diameter limit of each species harvested), diameter limits and an area-based tax (that replaced the volume-based tax) encourage companies to harvest a variety of species, many of which have low value or are not well known in the market.

Over the next five years, the government wants to approve FMPs covering at least 11.5 million ha. In 1999, the SF approved management plans covering about six million ha. The vast majority (>80 percent) of these plans were for concessions (40-year renewable contracts) held by private companies. The SF also approved FMPs for community associations (Agrupaciones Sociales del Lugar - ASLs) and indigenous communities (Tierras Comunitarias de Origen - TCOs), though at present these cover much smaller areas. Likewise, privately owned forest, for which harvesting rights are also subject to approval by the SF, comprised only about three percent of the total production area.

Although some estimates place Bolivia’s potential annual timber production capacity at more than 24 million m3 (ITTO, 1996), it is likely that silvicultural treatments will be necessary to realize this potential. Furthermore, producers must also find markets for the numerous species comprising this volume estimate. Although the SF approved the extraction of more than 1.5 million m3 of timber during 1997-2000, the producers’ actual harvest has been only 30-50 percent of this total (Superintendencia Forestal, 2000). The unharvested volume largely consisted of species with very low market prices. With a weak economy, poor processing capacity, lack of national policies supporting the sector and limited market access, Bolivia’s forestry sector faces many challenges. Nevertheless, from 1996-2000, Bolivia has made great strides in harvest practices, institutional capacity and the implementation of laws and regulations.

PROGRESS TOWARDS RIL IMPLEMENTATION

Brazil

Until the mid-1990s, there was little reason for optimism about the prospects for FM in the Amazon. At that point, however, IMAZON rekindled interest in FM by demonstrating that RIL implementation is technically and financially feasible (Johns et al., 1996; Barreto et al., 1998). The Tropical Forest Foundation’s Brazilian subsidiary, Fundaçao Floresta Tropical (FFT), continued, expanded and operationalized IMAZON’s research efforts through a major demonstration, research and training program that catalyzed interest in applying RIL among a wide variety of stakeholders (Blate, 1997; Holmes et al., in press; FFT, 2000). In the central Amazon, Mil Madeiras began applying RIL on an industrial scale. The government of Acré drafted state policies supportive of FM. The government of Mato Grosso, in partnership with FFT, similarly instituted several projects to promote better FM practices. The federal government, also in collaboration with FFT, established a RIL demonstration in the Tapajós National Forest. Recently, it also developed progressive policies to ensure that harvesting practices do not compromise the Amazon’s other values. These and other efforts indicate that progress has been made and improvement is likely to continue.

Between 1995 and 2000, the number of companies beginning to adopt (or expressing interest in adopting) key aspects of RIL dramatically increased. In 1995, almost no companies were conducting 100 percent inventories, making maps, or applying practices to minimize damage and waste or maximize harvesting efficiency. By 1999, four companies, with management areas covering some 81 000 ha, had incorporated planning and other pre-harvest RIL elements in their operations. In 2000, six companies, with more than 385 000 ha, were implementing key aspects of RIL and several others requested technical assistance to do so.

Bolivia

Despite Bolivia’s minor status as a tropical timber producer, it has become a leader among tropical countries in terms of its progress towards the implementation of forest management. The term “forest management” is emphasized here because the various institutions working in Bolivia to improve forestry over the past decade have tried to address a wide array of activities. Beyond helping companies to comply with technical aspects of management and the law (e.g. completing a census and preparing management plans), these institutions have also worked to resolve land-title disputes, to improve mapping capacities and to disseminate information about the numerous benefits that derive from proper forest management. Institutions like CADEFOR have also helped companies to improve their business management and marketing skills and have emphasized the need to improve processing efficiency.

Before 1996, FM and RIL were practically nonexistent in Bolivia. Although perhaps one or two companies were starting to implement RIL components to increase efficiency and reduce harvesting costs, most were still high-grading mahogany and cedar. But the new forestry law imposed extensive changes on the forest sector and essentially required companies to practise RIL (Nittler and Nash, 1999). In the five years after its enactment, about one-third of the 40-plus companies holding concessions have made significant progress towards complying not only with the letter, but also the spirit of the law’s technical requirements. Seven of these companies are certified and others are seeking certification (Table 2). Bolivia has more certified natural forest than any other tropical country (Nittler and Nash, 1999). Still, more than half the companies holding concessions remain unwilling or unable to go beyond minimum compliance with the law.

CHARACTERISTICS OF COMPANIES IMPLEMENTING RIL

To assess the impact and significance of the fact that RIL implementation grew from 1995 to 2000, it is important to explore how the producers that have begun to adopt FM-RIL differ from those that have not. In this regard, this section describes the characteristics shared by most companies that have begun to adopt RIL.

Table 2. Certified forest areas in Bolivia (From FSC 2000)*

Enterprise

Ownership

Forest Type

Area (ha)

Amazonic Sustainable Enterprises, Inc.

Private

Mixed-natural/plantation

30 000

Aserradero San Martin S.R.L. - Cinma Pando

Concession

Natural

166 228

Aserradero Tarumá Ltda.

Concession

Natural

83 467

Central Intercomunal Campesina del Oriente de Lomerio (CICOL)/APCOB

Communal

Natural

52 000

Compañia Industrial Maderera Ltda. (CIMAL) - San Miguel

Concession

Natural

87 562

Compañia Industrial Maderera Ltda. (CIMAL) - Velasco

Concession

Natural

67 904

Empresa Agroindustrial La Chonta Ltda - Lago Rey

Concession

Natural

120 000

Empresa Agroindustrial La Chonta Ltda - La Chonta

Concession

Natural

100 000

Empresa Aserradero San Martín S.R.L. - Cinma-San Martin

Concession

Natural

119 200

Industria Maderera San Luis S.R.L

Private

Natural

58 619

Total



884 980

* Internet Document: www.fscoax.org

Brazil - large, vertically integrated companies with access to capital

A mutual aspect that companies beginning to adopt RIL in Brazil share is that they (i) are all large and vertically integrated with access to capital and substantial forest areas; and (ii) all have invested in appropriate technology and have trained or hired qualified personnel (Table 3). Moreover, none of these companies faces any immediate risks of invasion by colonists or of catastrophic fire, both of which would certainly dampen any interest in long-term investments. CIKEL has a unique advantage over most companies in the sector because of its size and its proximity to at least four good markets: local, northeast and southern Brazil, and export. The relative security perceived by many companies that are now implementing RIL figures prominently in their decision to obtain certification, which is an indicator that they are committed to long-term management.

Table 3. Classification of companies making progress toward RIL implementation in the Brazilian Amazon

Company category by progress toward RIL implementation

Company names and area owned (ha)

Total forest area (ha)

FSC certified companies that practise RIL

Mil Madeiras - 76 000
Gethal - 41 000
CIKEL - 206 000
Jurua - 40 000

363 000

Companies that have gone through the process and are awaiting conclusion of certification; practise RIL

Rosa Madereira - 24 000

24 000

Companies that have gone through precertification and practise RIL

EMAPA - 15 000

15 000

Companies that have not requested certification but practise RIL

Treviso/FLONA Tapajos - 3 300
FUNTAC/Antimari State Forest - 42 000

45 300

Companies that expect to be certified in the future and practise many components of RIL

7 companies - names not available

186 000

Companies that practise some components of RIL and are improving

11 companies - names not available

96 000

TOTAL

26 companies

749 300

Bolivia - large, well-organized companies with multiple concessions and diverse products

In contrast to Brazil, few if any Bolivian companies have substantial capacity to invest in technology or training, although several are finding ways to do so. Although colonization pressure has been historically low, the recent wave of migration from the altiplano has increased pressure and nearly every company in Bolivia has been affected. Additionally, some concessions are also claimed as indigenous territories, a threat to the security of forestry companies that has increased since the 1996 agrarian reform law (Pacheco, 1998). Thus, land tenure is not as secure in Bolivia as it is for the companies in Brazil that have begun to adopt RIL. Finally, none of the companies has particularly good market access and all must contend with long transport distances. Like the advanced companies in Brazil (Table 3), however, the Bolivian companies making the most progress towards RIL implementation are also typically large. The most advanced, such as CIMAL/RODA, San Martin and La Chonta, Ltd. have multiple concessions in different regions, produce a diverse array of products from various species, and are sufficiently organized so that the area-based tax does not affect them greatly. Companies like CIMAL, which were trying to diversify species’ use before the 1996 law came into effect, have had a much easier time making the transition to RIL required by the 1996 law.

CERTIFICATION

Brazil - growing interest

At present, only four companies are FSC[37] certified in Brazil, but others have taken concrete steps in this direction (Table 3). Mil Madeira was the first to remain certified from 1997 to 2000. This company differs from many others in the Amazon because it benefits from ample foreign investments and is situated in the Free Trade Zone, which allows it to import equipment and materials that are taxed elsewhere in the Amazon. Despite initially failing to make a profit, the Swiss owners and the company’s supporters are committed to achieving sustainable forest management.

Gethal obtained certification in mid 2000 after receiving technical assistance from FFT. Although the company has been operating near Manaus for many years, it had been criticized for buying its wood from third parties and thus could not vouch for the quality (or legality) of its sources. This problem is not uncommon for many mill owners in the Amazon. Gethal decided the best way to proceed was to purchase land (~40 000 ha) and manage it according to the RIL practices. Now, one-third of the timber the company needs for its mill comes from its own certified forest, another third comes from Mil Madeiras and the remainder it buys from the open market.

Two other companies, Jurua Madeiras and CIKEL, were certified recently. Jurua Maderias, which has a mill and owns 40 000 ha is also receiving technical assistance from FFT, the Center for International Forestry Research and EMBRAPA. CIKEL owns more than 200 000 ha in eastern Pará and has hosted FFT’s RIL demonstration and training program since it began six years ago. Despite its direct involvement, the company remained skeptical about the feasibility of adopting RIL practices. In 1999, that attitude changed and the company made a commitment to adopt RIL. The principal reason for doing so, according to the owners, is that they had become convinced - based on the results of a cost-benefit study (Holmes et al., in press) - that the practices would improve their profits. Obtaining certification is a means to improve the company’s image and obtain access to certain markets (although only 15 percent of their production is for export).

Bolivia - a world leader

As mentioned above, Bolivia leads the world in terms of hectares of natural tropical forest certified. At present, nine forests with a total area of about 900 000 ha (Table 2) are certified and an area nearly that size is likely to be certified in the next few years.

One of the principal drivers of certification has been BOLFOR, a joint endeavour of USAID and the Bolivian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, established in 1993 to improve forest management in Bolivia. BOLFOR played a substantial supporting role during the shaping of the new forestry law as well as during development of the technical guidelines required for its implementation. From its inception in 1993, BOLFOR has endeavoured to link improvements in management practices with processing, markets and certification (Nittler and Nash, 1999).

Most companies in Bolivia believe that certification is “...beneficial both from the perspective of the balance sheet, and in the way that certification has changed the image of forest industries in the eyes of the general public in Bolivia” (ENS, 1999). The director of field operations for La Chonta, another certified company, also mentioned that although certification does not necessarily provide a green premium, it does provide market access. The forester for a third company noted that her company would have all of its concessions certified, but resource-use conflicts with colonists essentially disqualified two areas. This fact points to the weak governmental capacity to resolve tenure disputes and when it is legally warranted to provide tenure security.

It remains to be seen whether the enthusiasm in Bolivia for certification will continue when large areas in Brazil become certified. The dominant view in the sector appears to be that certification provides an advantage in a market environment in which it otherwise could not compete with Brazil and also enables sales of lesser-known species that may not otherwise have markets.

REGIONS MAKING THE MOST PROGRESS TOWARD RIL

Brazil

RIL implementation progress in natural forests in Brazil has been the most dramatic in two distinct regions: eastern Pará and the Itacoatiara region of Amazonas. Although in 2000 most companies operating in eastern Pará were still apparently conducting business as usual (i.e. unplanned logging by untrained and weakly supervised crews), CIKEL’s and Jurua’s commitment to RIL has generated interest throughout the region. Likewise, in the Tapajós National Forest, CEMEX has made substantial progress toward implementing RIL. Gethal and Mil Madeira have provided the same leadership in the Itacoatiara region. In Mato Grosso, the state-run PROMANEJO sponsored several projects from 1996-2000 that persuaded several companies (e.g. Baecari Madeiras and Angeli Madeiras) to adopt RIL and provided training for them to do so. In Acré, FUNTAC has begun implementing RIL in the State Forest with political support from the governor.

Bolivia

RIL implementation in Bolivia appears to be less region-specific than in the Brazilian Amazon. Part of this parity is simply because Bolivia is much smaller. An alternative explanation is that several of the most advanced companies hold concessions in different regions to diversify their resource base.

ELEMENTS OF RIL IMPLEMENTATION

This section focuses on the specific practices that companies in Bolivia and Brazil are starting to adopt. The comments apply principally to the companies described above (see Tables 2 and 3) because they have made the most progress towards RIL implementation. We note, however, where the implementation of certain RIL elements is occurring more widely. In all cases, our comments represent our best guess of how widely the components of RIL are being implemented (see Table 4 for a summary). This section also begins to examine why companies are starting to implement certain RIL elements and not others.

Planning

The companies that have begun to adopt RIL practices have made the most progress in pre-harvest and harvest planning. In Bolivia, part of the reason for this trend is that companies may not legally harvest any trees until the SF approves their annual operating plans (POA). In both countries, however, companies making the transition to RIL appreciate that planning increases their efficiency and reduces operational and equipment maintenance costs. To develop an acceptable POA, a company must conduct a 100 percent census of merchantable trees so that it can make maps for harvest planning. By 1999, the SF had approved a total of 241 POAs (all ownership categories) covering nearly 180 000 ha and a volume to be harvested of 1.4 million m3. In Brazil, IBAMA recently released guidelines for development of POAs quite similar to those in Bolivia; these also require the basic RIL planning elements. Although the first official POA was written last year, several companies in Brazil have made planning a central part of their field operations. The census, harvest planning maps, and other pre-harvest RIL elements are also prerequisites for FSC certification, which is already important in Bolivia and becoming so in Brazil.

It is important to note that the 100 percent census almost invariably is limited to crop trees. Most companies still believe it is too costly to include future crop trees in the pre-harvest inventory. However, not including future crop trees impedes any attempt to reduce felling damage, much less plan subsequent harvests. Interviewees seemed to understand the importance of future crop trees and indicated that their sawyers attempt to avoid hitting them whenever possible. Several companies in both countries have also established research programs to develop more efficient census systems and to determine whether their investments in RIL are in fact reducing damage. The upshot is that most companies recognize that they will eventually have to address the issue of future crop trees as it clearly relates to cutting cycles and future yields.

Companies adopting RIL have also made substantial progress with mapping, harvest planning and road planning and construction. Mapping and harvest planning are linked to the census, but some companies still do not take advantage of these cost-saving tools despite complying with the census requirement. In Bolivia, PROMABOSQUE, the technical arm of the Forestry Chamber, processes census data and makes maps for every member company. No such clearinghouse exists in Brazil, but several companies have invested in data analysis and mapmaking technology. Most company representatives we interviewed explained that improving and reducing their road networks are among their most important achievements to date. Several companies in Bolivia explained that a large share of the 50-70 percent reduction in field costs is attributable to road planning and the consequent construction of fewer kilometers of roads.

Vine cutting is recommended in the technical guidelines issued by IBAMA and the SF for most forests in both Brazil and Bolivia and in all but the driest commercial forests in Bolivia. Few of the companies are placing much emphasis on this RIL element, although nearly all are doing something. In Brazil, it appears that cutting vines less than six months in advance of the harvest does little to reduce felling damage (FFT unpublished data). Yet, some companies in both countries are cutting vines only 1-3 months before harvesting, if at all. One company forester claimed that cutting vines too far in advance made the forest more dangerous because, as they dry, they fall on the heads of workers. The companies that are most in compliance with the recommendations cut vines at the time of inventory (usually >9 months before the harvest). But, in few cases are workers thorough, and often many vines remain in crop trees at the time of harvest. In addition, as far as we are aware, no companies are cutting vines on future crop trees.

Table 4. Extent to which specific FM-RIL practices have been implemented by producers in the Bolivian and Brazilian Amazon from 1995-2000. Numbers are on a scale of 0-4; 0=no companies and 4 = all companies.1

Practice

Bolivia certified

Bolivia non-certified

Brazil west

Brazil east

Forest Management Plan approved2

4

4

2

3

Annual Operating Plan approved3

4

4

1

3

Annual operating coupe demarcated4

4

3

2

3

100 percent census > DMC5

4

3

1

2

Mapping6

4

4

1

2

Vine cutting7

3

2

1

2

Minimum road & skid trail network8

3

2

1

3

Bridges and culverts9

3

2

2

3

Log decks10

3

2

1

2

Crop trees marked11

4

3

2

3

Crop trees checked12

2

3

1

3

Future crop trees marked13

1

0

0

2

Directional felling14

3

2

0

2

Low stumps15

4

3

1

3

Maximum bole and branch use16

2

2

2

3

Road/skid trail planning

3/2

2

2

3

Skidding w/minimal soil disturbance

2

2

2

2

Watercourse protection17

3

2

2

3

Maximum bole and branch use16

2

2

2

3

Road/skid trail planning

3/2

2

2

3

Skidding w/minimal soil disturbance

2

2

2

2

Watercourse protection17

3

2

2

3

Seed trees and/or other efforts for regeneration18

4

4

2

2

Safety equipment19

2

2

2

3

No hunting20

4

2

2

3

1 Brazilian producers are assessed in two classes: east refers to companies situated east of Manaus; west refers to companies operating, e.g. in Acre. Extent of implementation is on a 0 to 4 scale; 0 = no one; 1 = few; 2 = some; 3 = most; 4 = all.

2 In Bolivia and Brazil, Forest Management Plans must describe pertinent biological, social and economic aspects of the forest area under management. In Bolivia, the Superintendencia Forestal (SF) must approve FMPs; in Brazil, IBAMA fills this role.

3 The annual operating plan must provide adequate detail about all activities in a particular year; emphasis is given to areas to be harvested. Details on the number of individuals and volume of each species harvested must be included. These details must be based on a 100 percent census of the area to be harvested.

4 The area(s) to be harvested in a particular year must be clearly demarcated. Boundaries must be consistent with those stated in the annual operating plan.

5 The census requires all crop trees above the diameter limit (DMC), which varies by species. Locations of individuals must be recorded and diameters measured. The monitoring agencies also require volume estimates.

6 The SF and IBAMA require various maps, the most detailed of which indicate crop tree locations as well as the road network.

7 This is legally required on an “as needed” basis. Thus, most companies that cut vines are not thorough. In addition, some even cut vines just a few months in advance, which has no demonstrated benefit.

8 Difficult to legally mandate as the road and skid trail area needed depend on tree density and distribution, topography and other factors. Nonetheless, this practice refers to efforts to build and maintain a road network that is appropriate for the site and causes the least amount of ground disturbance possible. The companies that have made progress in this regard have reported significant cost savings by adopting this practice.

9 Refers to proper construction and maintenance and the fact that river crossings should be kept to a minimum.

10 Refers to construction of log decks that cause disturbance to the least ground area possible and fewest number of trees possible as well as the appropriate positioning of decks for optimal skidding efficiency.

11 At a minimum, crop trees are marked so sawyers can find them, but trees are also marked with tags (and once cut, with paint) for chain of custody purposes.

12 Although sawyers visually check trees for defects and signs of rot, this practice refers to insertion of the chainsaw blade to check for internal hollows.

13 Refers to tagging and marking with visible paint or flagging all potential future crop trees (=stems below the DMC of commercial and potentially commercial species).

14 Refers to deliberate selection of a felling direction to avoid collateral damage and waste, improve safety, and facilitate skidding. All companies performing this practice list safety as their first priority. Some companies list facilitating skidding as their second reason for directional felling. Others list avoiding damage to future crop trees.

15 Refers to reducing felling waste by cutting stumps as low to the ground as possible.

16 Refers to reducing felling and bucking waste by using as much of the bole and branches as possible.

17 Refers to retention of riparian buffers according to legal requirements.

18 Bolivian law requires 20 percent of all crop trees to be retained; Brazilian law has no such provision.

19 Law requires use of standard safety equipment including hardhat and appropriate footware for all forest workers. Sawyers and machine operators must also use ear and eye protection. Sawyers must also use safety gloves and leg protection. In most cases, workers do not use this equipment because they claim it is uncomfortably hot, which they argue increases their fatigue and creates a greater safety hazard.

20 Hunting is supposed to be controlled according to law, and certifiers strictly prohibit use of wildlife for feeding forest workers.

HARVESTING

Felling

Compared to planning, the implementation of RIL elements associated with harvesting is less impressive. For example, despite numerous training courses in directional felling, good techniques with proper attention to safety are still far from being universally applied. To be fair, sawyers are doing a better job of cutting low to the ground and are taking steps to avoid splitting the butt log. Most companies in Brazil (see Table 3) also require sawyers to test trees for hollows. Progress in these areas is particularly noteworthy in certified forests. What is generally lacking, however, is consistent protection of future crop trees and other advanced regeneration. As noted above, part of the problem is that future crop trees are neither marked nor released from vines. In other cases, supervisors place higher priority on felling so as to facilitate skidding rather than to protect future crop trees.

Skidding

Ironically, despite all the effort and money spent on planning, skidding remains one of the most poorly implemented RIL elements. Although proper layout of skid trails can reduce skidding costs by 38 percent and ground area disturbed by 50 percent (Holmes et al., in press), proper implementation of this method is complex and technicians need experience to do it well. Even FSC certified operations observed in Bolivia and Brazil did not attempt to plan or mark skid trails. Where they have tried to do so, the layout has often been illogical. Notably, however, all company representatives interviewed claimed that they were beginning to take steps to improve skidding. They all seemed to recognize that the costs from all preceding activities will only be compensated by increased production if good skidding planning is implemented.

One constraint facing many operations in Bolivia is that when logs of valuable species are left on the ground for more than a day they are rendered unmarketable by attack from blue stain fungi. These logs must be transported to the mill, sawn and loaded into drying ovens quickly to avoid being stained. To do so, many companies tightly link the felling and skidding operations. In these cases, skidder operators attempt to follow tracks cut by census crews, although without the aid of flagging, they occasionally simply search for the most direct path to the log deck or road without much regard for damage to future crop trees. Another consequence of linking the sawyer and skidder into a crew is the substantial “down time” for the operators and equipment, while one operator waits for the other to finish the task.

Wood-use efficiency

Minimizing wood waste is being implemented to varying degrees depending on markets and species. Though planning reduces (or ideally eliminates) the problem of “lost logs” (Johns et al., 1996; Holmes et al., in press), most companies do not make maximum use of stems and few make an effort to use branches. Part of the problem is that the volume gained by taking branches and hollow stems appears to be insufficient to outweigh the associated hauling costs. The standards mills have for the quality and size of logs they are willing to process is another aspect of this problem. The enforcement of minimum diameter limits for logs creates a legal constraint that also discourages use of branches or logs below the diameter limit.

Companies in Bolivia that are harvesting high-value species have made the most progress in terms of maximizing the volume harvested for each tree cut. The finding that branch wood can comprise up to 40 percent of the volume of merchantable wood for several high-value species motivated CIMAL/RODA to utilize as much of the wood from each tree as possible. Other companies are starting to move in this direction, at least with the highest-value species.

In Brazil, the story is similar, although distance to the mill seems to be a key factor. Mill owners in Paragominas, the major wood-processing centre in eastern Pará, are now accepting logs with up to 50 percent defects and more than 53 species (J.C. Zweede, pers. obs.). CIKEL, which is about 200 km from Paragominas, has also lowered its mill standards and is accepting smaller logs with more defects after realizing how much of their resource was being wasted[38]. Further away from good markets, however, companies are still taking only the best portions of the best logs.

Seed trees

The retention of seed trees is required by law and for certification; all companies considered here have adopted this practice. The technical guidelines, however, are based merely on a precautionary guess rather than on good life-history data that would allow predictions about the future stocking of the commercial tree species. Nevertheless, Bolivian companies appear to be complying with the requirement to retain 20 percent of merchantable stems of each species. Preliminary research indicates that this blanket prescription is excessive for some species and inadequate for others (see also Sist et al., in this volume). Furthermore, for several commercial species, seed tree retention must be combined with other silvicultural treatments (e.g. soil preparation and gap enlargement) to enhance natural regeneration effectively. Based on these results, some silviculturalists in Brazil are working to change the seed tree retention prescriptions, as in Bolivia.

Supervision

Although nearly every company has field supervisors, many do not have a trained field supervisor overseeing felling and skidding crews. In Brazil, most companies starting to adopt RIL (Table 3) have invested in technicians and place them with harvest crews. Of the four companies interviewed in Bolivia, only one indicated that they had field supervisors overseeing felling and skidding.

FACTORS AFFECTING RIL IMPLEMENTATION

Motivating forces

Productivity and cost

The primary factor that seems to be driving the implementation of RIL in Brazil is increased productivity and reduced harvesting costs, at least for companies with their own land. In Bolivia too, every company now implementing RIL or moving in that direction, is motivated by the greater efficiency and reduced costs that derive from the ability to plan. Once companies realize that they are using their own resources inefficiently, they become more willing to adopt at least those elements of RIL that can reduce timber waste and reduce costs. This relationship seems to depend on proximity to markets and market security; the greater the market access or the more secure the market, the more a company appears willing to adopt RIL. It also depends on the internal capacity (e.g. business management, organization, etc.) of the company to actually plan harvesting operations based on the information the census provides. In Brazil, FFT’s and IMAZON’s cost-benefit studies, which show that RIL is cost-effective, have helped to explain the advantages of adopting RIL. In Bolivia, BOLFOR studies (and internal research by companies) have played a similar role.

Law/enforcement

In contrast to Brazil, a principal factor driving RIL implementation in Bolivia is the 1996 forestry law. Although by no means simple, the task of enforcing this law has been facilitated by at least three key conditions. First, and foremost, was the creation with the law of a new forest service, which has prided itself on being efficient and transparent. Although the SF lacks the capacity to visit every forest with a management plan, it has a staff of well-trained technicians distributed throughout the main production centres in the country (R. Gúzman, pers. comm.). The directorate of the SF’s technical division, which reviews FMPs and POAs, conducts site evaluations, and provides permits and certificates of origin, emphasized the youth and commitment of the SF’s technicians and foresters, features that provide a solid foundation for the SF’s tasks. It is also important to note that efforts by crafters of the 1996 forestry law to reduce the potential for influence from wealthy forestry companies and other political pressure seem to have been effective[39].

Another condition that facilitates the SF’s task is the existence of various tools built into the new law designed to aid the SF, combined with the fact that most of Bolivia’s production is from concessions over which the SF has considerable authority. Although the SF does not have the capacity to evaluate every FMP and POA on site, the possibility of a site visit apparently is a strong impetus for many companies to comply with the law. The SF should also pass on more responsibility to the foresters who sign these plans; the fact that these foresters are legally accountable means that they can be prosecuted if the plans are invalid or improperly implemented (W. Cordero, pers. comm.). To cover the entire territory, the SF[40] relies on control at timber-processing centres and transportation checkpoints where certificates of origin with species and volumes on board must be shown to inspectors. Although timber can be, and often is, confiscated when documents are not in order, this reliance on checkpoints is the weakest link in enforcement and highlights the SF’s need for additional field capacity.

Finally, the new law in Bolivia changed the old volume-based tax, which did not penalize high-grading of the most valuable species, to an area-based tax meant to encourage companies to use the resources available on their lands efficiently (Fredericksen, 2000). There is still much debate about the fairness and effectiveness of this tax and much controversy about revenue distribution (i.e. how, to whom, how much). Nevertheless, because companies must pay an annual tax for their entire concession (even when they only harvest a small portion in a particular year) they are motivated to plan and improve the efficiency of their activities.

Although Brazil’s forestry laws and technical norms have been updated, enforcement is often ineffective. The fact that nearly all of Brazil’s forest extraction activities occur on private land greatly complicates the task, as does the wide range of sizes and kinds of producers and difficult logistics resulting from great distances. Moreover, until recently the regulatory personnel responsible for enforcing compliance with RIL guidelines were not trained adequately. FFT has worked closely with IBAMA field staff to reduce this barrier and by late 2000 there were signs reflecting a growing commitment to improving enforcement.

External pressure/monitoring

A third factor that is motivating companies to adopt RIL in both Bolivia and Brazil is pressure from NGOs, the public, the government, and increasingly the market. Some NGOs (e.g. WWF and Greenpeace) have played a central role in raising awareness about the poor state of logging and about the importance of the Amazon in general. Others have provided key data about the limits and opportunities for forest management in the Brazilian Amazon (e.g. IMAZON, IPAM, etc.) and in the Bolivian Amazon (e.g. BOLFOR; Pacheco, 1998). Some NGOs, like IMAZON in Brazil and BOLFOR in Bolivia, have been successful in persuading government officials to translate their scientific findings into more progressive policies. The pressure and awareness raising have also led to the development of a forestry culture in both countries. The public process involving numerous stakeholders for development of Bolivia-specific FSC criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, for example, was important in this regard (K. Pierront, pers. comm.). In the eastern Amazon, FFT has played a similar catalytic role by bringing together stakeholders in seminars, conferences and meetings.

Certification

Along with the new forestry law, certification has been the principal motivating factor for implementing RIL in Bolivia (Nittler and Nash, 1999). Most companies either already implementing RIL or in the transition to RIL want to be certified because of the perception that it opens and consolidates markets. Since internal demand for timber is small in Bolivia, the export market is vital and access to it is increasingly dependent on providing an adequate supply of timber from well-managed sources. This is especially true for European markets that are increasingly closed to non-FSC certified wood products. Internally, as well, companies are keen to improve their image, which has been tarnished by years of predatory practices. Another attraction of certification is that the SF’s annual audits are replaced with audits every five years. Finally, because the gap between complying with the law and becoming certified is so small, becoming certified is attractive (Jack, 1999).

The importance of certification, though less than in Bolivia, is growing in Brazil. For example, in the cases of CIKEL, Gethal, Jurua and Mil Madeira, the adoption of RIL was linked to an interest in obtaining certification. One can infer that these companies and others like them perceive that the markets in which they sell their products are beginning to demand timber from well-managed sources. As Gethal and Mil Madeira sell many of their products overseas, their decision seems quite rational. CIKEL, however, must be taking a much longer perspective since it sells most of its timber domestically. Although the market in Southeast Brazil does not currently demand certified timber, several NGOs, government officials and international donor representatives want to generate demand in the region for certified timber. For CIKEL, the long-term perspective is also concerned with the realization that RIL is the best way to manage its resources.

Technical assistance

A fourth factor that has been central to the adoption of RIL is the availability of technical assistance. One of the biggest obstacles to the adoption of RIL continues to be lack of qualified people at all levels. In Brazil, a large difference can be observed (in terms of RIL implementation progress) between the regions and companies that have benefited from training or demonstration and those that have not. FFT has played a pivotal role in this regard by providing hands-on, practical training in various aspects of RIL. The training courses along with a variety of extension activities have helped to catalyze interest in FM among a wide array of stakeholders. Two important consequences of FFT’s program have been a steady increase in demand for RIL and the incorporation of RIL components into IBAMA regulations.

In Bolivia, WWF provided key technical assistance in the early 1990s and BOLFOR’s program continued and expanded those efforts throughout the decade. BOLFOR’s assistance has been extensive, providing technicians on the ground to help companies (and now communities) to develop forest management plans and annual operating plans, as well as to install growth and yield plots, conduct censuses, analyse data and prepare maps. Yet, company managers had to take some initiative to capitalize on BOLFOR’s assistance, and those who remain reticent or convinced that the new law and its requirements are unjust have not benefited. Furthermore, some organizations now need to focus on providing technical assistance with implementation.

Dwindling timber supply

Another factor that appears to be relevant to RIL adoption in Brazil is dwindling timber supplies near the main timber-processing centres. Transport distances have increased by 65 percent in the past 5-10 years as the valuable species close to mills have been exhausted. The resulting increase in stumpage value is pushing companies to treat the resource somewhat more carefully. In contrast, at the logging frontier in Brazil, dwindling supplies do not seem to be influencing the adoption of RIL. In Bolivia, the fact that the most valuable species (e.g. mahogany, cedar and Spanish oak) have already been logged from most forests creates a situation resembling that in the older timber-processing centres in Brazil. Companies must also extract a sufficient volume of lower-value species to cover the costs of the area-based tax. This seems to provide some impetus for the adoption of RIL.

Impeding factors

This section summarizes some of the most important factors that impede RIL implementation in Brazil and Bolivia. It is not an exhaustive discussion of the disincentives for RIL or forest management in general.

Misunderstanding the benefits of FM-RIL

In many parts of the Brazilian Amazon and among at least half the producers in Bolivia, the perception that RIL implementation is too costly is still prevalent. In these cases, it is usually the landowners or similar level decision-makers who lack an understanding of the feasibility or benefits of RIL and who, therefore, continue using the old unplanned practices. As noted above, part of the problem is that the technical assistance and extension efforts have not reached all potential audiences. This problem is especially true in the Brazilian Amazon because of its size and number and variety of producers. Another part of the problem, however, is that the practices being promoted based on positive cost-benefit results pertain to a range of conditions, but are not necessarily valid everywhere or for every company. Although institutions like FFT and BOLFOR have developed a range of options and alternatives appropriate to different kinds of producers, much more operational research is needed.

Forest management not a principal interest

In many cases, especially in Brazil, but also in Bolivia, landowners and company managers are still not interested in forestry, but are simply using logging revenues to subsidize their ranches or farms. This is related to the decades-old attitude that the forest is an impediment to development, but also to the traditional need to clear forest to secure land tenure. Indeed, many of the risks landowners and concessionaires now face are a function of land conflicts.

Risks and disincentives

Squatters, timber thieves and colonists represent a significant deterrent to the implementation of RIL. Forest managers do not want to census an area only to find that illegal loggers have already cut their marked harvest trees. In Bolivia, this problem is exacerbated by the lack of a strong judiciary to help resolve land disputes or provide security for concessions or landowners. In addition, there is broad consensus among stakeholders in the Bolivian forest sector that the government needs to promulgate and implement national level policies to support the sector. These stakeholders assert that forestry is not a priority for the Bolivian government, despite its potential contribution to sustainable development. The Brazilian government, in contrast, has established policies reflecting its commitment to conserving, albeit through sustainable use, their Amazonian forests. Nonetheless, landowners in Brazil also must contend with the risk of illegal logging and squatting.

Other significant impediments to RIL adoption include fire, which perhaps represents the greatest risk to forests in both countries, as well as the limited infrastructure, tariffs and access to capital. Transportation networks, though expanding into many formerly inaccessible areas, limit market access in both countries. The limited network is also significant because it increases road transport costs, which may comprise as much as 60 percent of total costs for the industry. Government tariffs on imported equipment represent another barrier to the adoption of RIL especially in Brazil, where taxes on technologies that increase efficiency and reduce damage are equal to the value of the product. In both countries, access to credit at reasonable interest rates is difficult if not impossible due to strict bank lending policies (e.g. Pacheco, 1998). Without credit, many companies (especially smaller ones) are unable to invest in essential equipment and materials, or in training and supervision.

Markets

The lack of markets represents a major impediment to adoption of RIL in both Brazil and Bolivia. Although some companies in Brazil have excellent market access thanks to their geographic location, many do not. Poor market access limits the species (Figure 1) as well as the quality of the stems that companies can harvest profitably. The same holds true in Bolivia, although the companies with concessions in wet forests situated furthest from Santa Cruz (Figure 1) - the main commercial centre for the sector - are harvesting the most volume and most species (because they have both).

Figure 1. Forestry challenges in Bolivia and Brazil

The fact that several Bolivian companies have invested in certification reveals a flaw in this reasoning; improving market access is a principal factor motivating companies seeking certification to adopt RIL. In fact, because of the country’s small population, weak economy and traditional use of nontimber substitutions for construction, Bolivian companies must rely on external markets. This presents a further difficulty for many Bolivian (and Brazilian) producers because external markets have strict specifications for size and quality and at present, their processing facilities cannot satisfy these specifications. All of this points to a serious challenge for Bolivian companies: becoming competitive in the global market.

Human resources

The lack of trained and qualified people at all levels in the forestry sector, from chainsaw operators to marketing departments, is perhaps the biggest impediment to RIL adoption in both countries. Although numerous training courses have been held and a substantial number of individuals have been trained at all levels, there is still a major need for further activity. For example, in Brazil FFT has provided RIL training or technical assistance to nearly 300 technicians and foresters from 1995 to 2000 (Figure 2), but has had to turn away many individuals due to limited space in courses (FFT, 2000). As more companies become convinced of the benefits and cost-effectiveness of RIL, demand for qualified human resources will only increase.

Figure 2. Growth in RIL training provided by FFT in Brazil from 1996-2000

CONCLUSIONS

Summary

Many companies in Bolivia and Brazil have made substantial progress toward the adoption of RIL practices between 1995 and 2000. Large, diversified and well-organized companies have progressed most in this regard. In general, these companies have adopted the RIL elements that increase efficiency, reduce costs, improve marketing and enable companies to comply with the law. Mostly, these elements encompass planning. Still lacking is implementation of the RIL elements that particularly benefit the forest, including directional felling and skid trail layout to protect future crop trees, minimal impact skidding and watercourse protection. Producers must also improve supervision of felling and skidding crews. Finally, although many sawyers are now leaving low stumps, producers could still greatly increase their timber utilization.

Many factors influence the degree to which companies are adopting specific RIL elements and these factors differ somewhat between Brazil and Bolivia. In Bolivia, improving market access by becoming certified is probably the most important reason why companies have adopted many RIL practices. The 1996 forestry law and its enforcement by the SF undoubtedly has accelerated the pace at which companies are moving toward certification in Bolivia. In Brazil, the most important factor driving RIL adoption has been the increased efficiency and cost savings derived from the adoption of the planning elements of RIL (Table 5).

Given the size and complexity of the Amazon Basin, generalizations about the factors impeding RIL adoption must be viewed with caution. Nevertheless, several factors appear to be important obstacles to RIL adoption in both Brazil and Bolivia (Table 6). First, the perception that RIL is prohibitively expensive is still common among forest (or company) owners and senior managers. Second, RIL adoption is especially limited where risks from fire and squatters and insecure land tenure prevail. Great transport distances, weak processing capacity, poor organization and management and limited stocks of commercial species also seem to be important impediments. Finally, lack of trained people at all levels (practitioners to managers) is an important impediment to RIL adoption throughout the region.

Table 5. The importance of factors motivating the adoption of RIL in Bolivia and Brazil (on a scale of 0-4, 0=not important, 4=most important) from 1995-2000

Factor

Bolivia

Brazil

Law/enforcement

3

2

Efficiency/save $$

3

4

Public (NGO) pressure

1

1

Certification/markets

4

2

Technical assistance

3

4

Image/good for forest/safety

2/1/2

2/1/2

Table 6. The importance of factors impeding the adoption of RIL in Bolivia & Brazil (on a scale of 0-4, 0=not important, 4=most important) from 1995-2000

Factor

Bolivia

Brazil

Think RIL too costly

4

4

Lack of understanding

3

3

FM not main interest

2

4

Disincentives

3

3

Insecure land tenure

4

3

Risk of fire, squatters, etc.

4

3

Lack of trained people

4

4

Lack of proper equipment

1

2

Low volume of valuable spp.

3

1

Poor markets

4

2

Credit unavailable

3

3

Cheap timber available

1

2

Recommendations

We conclude with a list of actions that we believe will consolidate and expand the progress made to date toward RIL implementation in the Amazon. These key steps include:

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We are indebted to the individuals who graciously shared their knowledge and opinions with us, particularly F. Contreras, W. Cordero, T. Fredericksen, D. Nash, J. Nittler and the rest of the BOLFOR staff for their support in developing this paper, and F. Boltz, T. Fredericksen and K. Gould for their critical comments on an earlier draft. Special thanks also go to R. Guzman for providing data from the Superintendencia Forestal.

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[28] See Dykstra and Heinrich (1996) for a description of the general elements of RIL. Also, see Table 4 for a list of RIL elements emphasized in this analysis.
[29] The term “forest management” is considered here to be a broad concept, the meaning of which depends on the objectives of the forest owner, and does not necessarily involve timber harvesting. Here, we assume that the principal FM objective is managing timber for sustained yields and we note that FM also includes activities unrelated to timber harvesting including wood processing, business management, and marketing. “RIL” as defined here does not include silvicultural prescriptions beyond the harvest that may be necessary to achieve sustained yields of commercial species.
[30] Unless otherwise noted, Bolivia = Bolivian Amazon and Brazil = Brazilian Amazon.
[31] Three of these companies, CIMAL/RODA, La Chonta, and San Martin, hold 80 percent (~650 000 ha) of the certified forests in Bolivia. The fourth, Oquiriquia, is not certified.
[32] At the time of the conference, only Gethal and Mil Madeiras (located near Manaus) were certified. As of June 2001, CIKEL and Jurua Madeiras (located in the eastern Amazon) are also certified. Rosa Madeiras, Jarcel and Amacol (all eastern Amazon) are not certified.
[33] It is important to note that varzea loggers continued their activities during the migration of people to the uplands (described above) and still continue today. In fact, although the varzea provides only about 25 percent of the wood used in the Amazon, the volume harvested has grown (5-10 m3/ha) due mostly to marketing of new species. Because no one has yet devised a viable forest management plan for varzea forests and because harvesting in these forests is still relatively low impact, this paper focuses exclusively on upland forests and forestry.
[34] From 1960 to 1970, the human population near the Amazon’s first highways (Belém-Brasilia) mushroomed from about 100 000 to 2 million and the number of cattle increased by four orders of magnitude to >5 million (Lele et al., 2000).
[35] Includes concessionaires, indigenous groups, community associations and private forest owners.
[36] The forest inventory, conducted by means of permanent sample plots, includes all tree species found in the forest area above 10 cm diameter at breast height (dbh). The census may include only crop trees above the diameter cutting limit for each species.
[37] FSC = Forest Stewardship Council. FSC accredits certifiers that evaluate the practices of enterprises based on the principles, criteria, and indicators that FSC has codified, and which are largely regarded as a minimum starting point for sustainable forest management.
[38] It is worth noting that many companies including CIKEL make extensive use of waste wood for charcoal for the pig-iron industry because natural coal does not exist in Brazil.
[39] The SF may only be removed by the Bolivian Supreme Court; it may not be removed by the President.
[40] The SF consists of one national office, 23 satellite offices, seven regional offices, and 10 control points.

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