Forest plantations play a fundamental role in the socio-economic development of the country, contributing to the production of goods and services, adding value to forest products and generating jobs, foreign exchange, taxes, and income. Yet, it is estimated that forest plantations account for about only 1.5% of the existing forests in Brazil, although they play a major role in forest products markets accounting for an estimated 70% of the total industrial roundwood production.
Total plantations in the country are estimated at 6,582,700 hectares in 2008, about 93% of which comprises eucalypt and pines, with the remaining 7% from other species (notably wattle, rubber tree, paricá, teak, Parana pine and poplar). The main planted species in Brazil are mainly investments for profit; afforestation and reforestation programmes of forest companies are geared to supply industrial roundwood for the well-established and diversified forest products industry of the country (e.g., pulp and paper, pine lumber/sawnwood, reconstituted wood panels, pig-iron and steel industry, and energy wood). Such plantations are oriented to supply the industrial roundwood needs in the country, for both the domestic and export markets. The high productivity of plantations, relatively low production costs, extensive land area and advanced technology in Brazil gives the country comparative and competitive advantages in establishing plantation forests, making it an important producer of fast-growing plantation forest products.
While plantation sites set aside for pine and eucalypts range from those in degraded areas to those for agriculture purposes, the plantations are generally geared for production of industrial roundwood. It is worth mentioning that the growing importance of partnership forest plantation programmes between large corporations and small to medium-size landowners in the last few years.