TTF Attends Brazilian Minister Environment and Agriculture Briefing
7th October 2019

TTF Attends Brazilian Minister Environment and Agriculture Briefing

The Timber Trade Federation attended a briefing on the Brazilian environmental and agriculture sector, with several TTF Members and business from related sectors.

The briefings were given by Ricardo Salles, Brazil’s Environment Minister. Mr Salles has been conducting a tour of European embassies as part of a global business outreach initiative in response to concerns raised over the recent Amazon fires and statements and claims made in relation to the election of President Bolsonaro.

Mr Salles started by reminding the audience that there had in fact been no change to the law since Mr Bolsonaro was elected, and that economic development and environmental management must go hand in hand. He stressed that the Government has a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to environmental crimes, and that any person involved in illegal deforestation or burning of the forest would face arrest and prosecution.

He also highlighted the work that the Brazilian Government had done to combat the fires – deploying 43,000 personnel, 250 vehicles, and 15 aircraft.

After one month, this operation resulted in: 1,400 fires being extinguished, 68 people arrested, 129 fines imposed (to the value of around £7million) 17 clandestine camps destroyed, and 10,000 hectares embargoed.

However, Mr Salles also said there was a difference between “perception and reality” in the coverage of the Amazon fires. He presented figures showing that the fires in 2019 were in fact far lower in number that in previous years, yet attracted far more attention. Almost all of the fires in 2019 were “level one”- the lowest on a scale that goes up to three.

The briefing covered aspects of many of the agricultural and forestry sectors reliant on land use around the Amazon area. Delegates raised the fact that the fires and the public outcry had damaged their business interests, but that Brazil had some of the best systems in place – in terms of supply chain management and environmental control – compared to almost anywhere else in the world.

Robbie Weich, Compliance Manager for Tradelink International Group, a TTF Member and international timber trader, said:

“The Government systems for forest and timber tracking and monitoring in Brazil are second to none. It is a very tight framework, that allows buyers to validate and authenticate supply chain documentation quickly and accurately. Their advanced online systems are a crucial tool to identify risk and mitigate them accordingly. We are able to use QR code technology to track wood sourced from Federal Concessions from forest level all the way to our buyers through each stage of its journey”

The Brazilian tracking system deserves more global exposure and the recognition for its transparency and scope.

We appreciate the opportunity to have such productive meetings with Ministers who are directly involved in our sector. It is a chance for us in the private sector to voice our concerns to the respective Competent Authorities at source, about the real world challenges we face”

A copy of the full briefing document given to delegates can be downloaded here.