What happens when nature is left to run its course?
Monday, 10 November 2014
EDGARD AVEZUM JUNIOR, Commercial Director at Klabin, shares a touching story from the company’s forests in Brazil.
From the sky, Klabin’s forests look like an intricate and beautiful mosaic in all shades of green. In many senses, that’s just what they are: vast tracts of planted pine and eucalyptus meshed with arteries of natural forest.
Scores of species, some endangered, roam the protected corridors that the natural forest provides. Among them are more than 100 pumas (Puma concolor), the largest cats in the Americas after the jaguar. That was at the last count, and it’s likely that there are more now.
Once, pumas ranged across the Americas, as far north as the Rocky Mountains. Today, they are limited to the remaining forests, like the unbroken expanses in Klabin’s forests. These kings of the mountains, also known as cougars or mountain lions, don’t stay in the natural forest, of course; the entire mosaic is their playground. They live and breed freely here.
On two occasions (that the company knows of) pumas created dens for their cubs in the planted areas – in the direct pathway of harvesters.
On both occasions, Klabin’s stringent environmental requirements – which align 100% with FSC requirements – saw operations halt entirely until the cubs’ mothers returned to collect them.
Klabin is Brazil’s largest manufacturer of pulp and paper products, and its forests stretch through three states: Paraná, Santa Catarina to the south of Paraná, and Sao Paulo to the north. Brazilian legislation requires that the company set aside 20% as preserved forest, but Klabin exceeds that, with well over 100%.
Klabin’s largest forests are in Paraná, where 141,000 ha of a total of 345,000 ha is preserved forests. Here, the forests are habitats to about half of the state’s animal species; it teems with more than 750 animal species and 1,129 plant species.
FSC certification took place in 1998 (Paraná), 2004 (Santa Catarina) and 2009 (Sao Paulo).
It’s an important commercial tool for the company, differentiating it from players that do not adhere to sustainable practices.
It’s also a perfect fit.
FSC’s requirements stipulates that as part of pre-harvest activities, sites and areas of reproduction for rare animals and animals under threat of extinction are identified, and steps taken to protect them. This is the way that Klabin manages its forests and it’s something that its people are very proud of. They know that what sustains the puma’s habitat is simply the visible part of the iceberg of the forestry principles that it applies in its operations.
The people of Klabin are particularly proud of the two cases of puma cubs being saved and reunited with their mothers.
The first took place in a eucalyptus plantation in Paraná in November 2004. Harvesting was due to begin and scouts went out to scan the area to ensure that everything was in order. They found two cubs, barely a month old, hidden in a den. Their mother was away, probably looking for food. As cubs are born blind, they are completely dependent on their mothers at first.
Harvesting was immediately suspended and the crew withdrew from the area.
This is important: even though female pumas are fiercely protective of their young, , there is a chance that the mother will abandon her young if she smells humans. Two days later, the mother returned and took her cubs into the forest.
The second incident took place exactly a year later, this time in a pine plantation. Again, two cubs, less than a month old, were found. Again, all harvesting operations were suspended. And after three days, the mother came back to the nest and collected her cubs.
Pumas are at the top of the food chain and need a large, quiet habitat for hunting and survival. That they are breeding in Klabin’s forests, allowing the species to thrive, is a clear sign of a healthy environment. Finding a balance between commercial activity and conservation is the foremost goal for Klabin. And the story of the pumas showcases how humans and nature can co-exist.
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