Lessons on Forests from Brazil to Ethiopia and Mozambique


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Photo by Andrea Aquino / World Bank​Can Ethiopia and Mozambique learn a lesson from Brazil on harnessing forests sustainably for economic growth?
Thanks to a recent knowledge exchange program, yes!
As we can all imagine, Africa’s lush greenery and planted forests offer huge potential but the sector’s expansion faces major barriers like access to land, lack of access to affordable long-term finance and weak prioritization of the sector.
Take Ethiopia, for example. About 66.5 million cubic meters of the country (46% of total wood-fuel demand) is subject to non-sustainable extraction from natural forest, wood- and scrublands, resulting in deforestation and land degradation. In Mozambique, charcoal is still produced from native forests, leading to immense pressure on natural resources, and way beyond its regeneration capacity. Both countries want to know how the forest sector can contribute to their national development plans and help grow their economies and reduce rural poverty, while being environmentally sustainable.
This topic is of even more importance as we celebrate the International Day of Forests on March 21, and helps us raise awareness on the need to preserve forests and use this natural wealth in a responsible and sustainable manner.
In Africa, the domestic demand for forest products is increasing, and there is also huge potential to export pulp and paper. But to fulfill this demand, there is a need for a conducive policy and legal framework to support the sector, generate jobs and contribute to its environmental sustainability.
This is where Brazil comes in. The South American country boasts 7.6 million hectares of planted forests, a contribution of 17% to the timber harvested worldwide, and importantly, 630,000 jobs in 2013.  In the 60’s, driven by a national policy to replace imports by national production, Brazil created subsidies to foster forest plantations as a way to generate fuel for pig iron industries. The result was impressive - between 1964 and 2013, over 7 million hectares of planted forests were established.
The recent south-south knowledge exchange helped bring government and private sector representatives from Ethiopia and Mozambique to the states of São Paulo and Espírito Santo in Brazil to learn from the country’s experience on the best ways to harness forest products in a sustainable manner.
Source - Government of BrazilDuring our visit, we witnessed Brazil’s efficient supply chain including planting, harvesting, processing, distribution, and final consumption. We visited a smallholder in São Paulo who plants and harvests eucalyptus, transforms it into charcoal and sells charcoal to supermarkets. At the other end of the spectrum, we visited Fibria, the largest cellulose pulp factory in the country that produced 4.7 million tons of pulp in 2013. 
São Paulo also offers another successful example. The state mandated fuel wood users, such as ceramics factories, bakeries and pizza restaurants, to pay a fee to replace the renewable fuel used. This fee, transferred to forest associations, was used to establish high quality forest plantations. In Espirito Santo, a state-level payment for ecosystem services provided almost $3 million to smallholders who replanted native trees, adopted agroforestry systems, improved water supply and preserved native forests.
Lack of engagement is another challenge faced by Africa’s forest sector. While the private sector has faced problems in attracting new technology and scaling up best practices, institutions have not effectively engaged smallholders in extension services and in high productivity planting and harvesting schemes.
Both Ethiopia and Mozambique are striving to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and could experiment with different financing instruments.
Ethiopia is seeking ways to mainstream forestry into its growth and transformation plans, while Mozambique is looking at policy options to improve the business environment to attract private investment into planted forests. Whatever the options are, governments need to have clear guidelines on what is allowed in terms of planting and have the capacity to ensure compliance.
And of course, Happy International Day of Forests!
(The World Bank Group is supporting forestry sector development in Mozambique, through IFC’s engagement with the Portucel company, a large pulp and paper factory that will establish plantations in Mozambique.)


André Rodrigues de Aquino

André Aquino, Senior Natural Resources Management Specialist, Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice, World Bank

Join the Conversation

Fernando Félix
March 23, 2015

Very good André!
I'm proud of you.

Jose Monteiro (iTC)
March 23, 2015

Dear André. Thank you for this short informative reminder for change.
There is no way to escape on this. Mozambique has to find alternatives for its on unsustainable forest management, and surely, plantation might be one the solution. However, as you mention in the text, a great challenge is land administration and management for different purposes, and for Mozambique that becomes a huge challenge because, most of these investments needs to be implemented in areas where customary land needs to be respected, according to the law. Most of these customary rights are not registered. Community Land initiative (iniciativa para Terras Comunitárias - iTC) is supporting the Government in delivering these Customary registration, and we identified Community Land Delimitation, as key and basic approach for sustainable land-based investments. We would be pleased to share our lessons learned to people designing policies to attract investments in forest sector, so that these investments can both meet economic development goals of the country, while delivering rural development for those communities who depends primarily on these forest resources.
I believe that, great land management systems, which includes participatory planning and administration (in three party approach: Government, Communities and private sector) will quickly brings investments on first sector.
Cheers, and keep up the Good work.

Andre Aquino
May 23, 2019

Caro José Monteiro,
Certamente o trabalho da ITC será de grande valor. Estou baseado agora em Maputo e gostaria muito de te ver quando estiver em Maputo. Favor procurar-me no escritório do Banco Mundial na Av. Kenneth Kaunda. Até breve!

Obed de Jesus Olivares Guarneros
October 20, 2015

These Knowledge Programs, financed by the World Bank to combat natural deforestation, are an example of integrative circle and sustainability. But some companies that set up in Africa , don´t obey the rules and demands global standardization on the responsible exploitation of natural resources and raw materials. The Economic sanctions in Africa are void , facing the increasing pressure of Asian demand (China ) and European + UK consume in a market of illegal exploitation of primary resources of African countries .