May 27, National Atlantic Forest Day – Over the past 40 years, the target of the tobacco sector has been focused on eradicating the consumption of wood from native trees. Concentrated in South Brazil, most of the areas devoted to tobacco are located near the Atlantic Forest biome. With preservation and recovery initiatives, the results are quite visible. Effective incentives for reforestation achieved important results, like high forest cover in the farms of small-scale tobacco farmers, where forest cover reaches 24%, according to data released by the Tobacco Growers’ Association of Brazil (Afubra), split into 15% native forests and 9% planted forests.
“For some decades now, the sector has been self-sufficient in fuel wood for curing tobacco and thus native forests are preserved. Incentives provided by the industries, which started in the mid-1970s, and the farmers’ willingness to plant eucalyptus trees, played a fundamental role in the present enviable forest cover rates”, SindiTabaco president Iro Schünke comments. He also refers to the commitment set forth in the contract signed between the farmers and the industries, whereby both parties agree that tobacco production and commercialization comply with all environmental standards in force.
Since 2019, the Interstate Tobacco Industry Union (SindiTabaco) has maintained a partnership with the Federal University of Santa Maria to consolidate and expand technical and scientific knowledge towards strengthening forest-oriented activities, ensuring energy self-sufficiency and security of the small-scale farms. This research is coordinated by Prof. Dr. Jorge Antonio de Farias.
“Tobacco is a centuries-old crop and when it was brought to our region it was strongly dependent on natural forests as a source of fuel wood, particularly because back then there were no planted forests. Such common tree species as eucalyptus and acacia, were rare at that time and little known and, on the other hand, native forests were in great abundance. As of the 1970s, when the sector set targets to eradicate the consumption of wood from native trees, the farmers began to use wood from planted forests”, Farias explained.
“Within this context, the target of the project consists in strengthening the conquests achieved so far, that is to say, the maintenance of the existing native forests, and, at the same time, come up with new elements and technologies capable of increasing the productivity rates of existing reforested plots, whilst establishing new reforestation areas. To this end, we are creating reference units in tens of tobacco farms, testing new technologies and techniques, like spacing (distance between trees), new genetic materials and forest species that lead to higher productivity and energy performance”, Prof. Jorge Farias declares. His efforts are intended to come up with results to be shared with social media channels oriented towards tobacco farmers, encouraging them to adhere to conservation practices without jeopardizing their income and energy security on the farms.
KNOW MORE – May 27 was chosen to spread the need to preserve one of the oldest biomes in Brazil, whose origin goes back to approximately 70 million years. It is one of the richest regions in the world in biodiversity, but is equally one of the most threatened biomes on the planet. The Atlantic Forest ensures the supply of water to upwards of 100 million people and is also a source of food and medicinal plants, A significant amount of its remaining portion is located on steep slopes, and protection is the best assurance for the geological stability of these areas, warding off catastrophes. Besides providing shelter for many species threatened with extinction, it is also responsible for the regular flow of streams and rivers, whilst ensuring soil fertility and help balance our climate.
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