Sustainability assessment of two Sites with caatinga Vegetation in forests managed for charcoal and firewood production in the semi-arid region of Brazil


In 2006 in Brazil’s Caatinga biome, two managed forests with caatinga vegetation reached the end of their rotation. This event made possible the assessment of the performance of the adopted forest management systems in terms of conserving natural resources and promoting socio-economic benefits; the first time this has been done in the Caatinga biome. The assessment started with the selection of key field studies to be carried out on the forest properties. Four field studies were implemented: a forest inventory; a fauna evaluation (amphibians, reptiles, mammals and native bees); a phytosociological study and a soil quality assessment. The next step was to analyse the results of the field studies in an integrated way, in order to translate the results of each into a single sustainability performance indicator for not only the forest management systems but also for each property as a whole. This process demanded that the researchers all worked to achieve the same common goal, as opposed to focusing the assessments solely on their specific area of research. This was challenging because each researcher had a particular vision in relation to sustainability, and its goals and references, all of which were particular to each area of research. To overcome this situation, the researchers defined the common goal for the sustainability of the properties in a workshop. The workshop included presentations of the individual perceptions of sustainability, supported by an illustration of each researcher’s own view of a sustainable landscape. No pre-established concept of sustainability was used. The purpose of this was to stimulate reflection on what sustainability really means, as opposed to the mere acceptance of an established concept. This exercise allowed the researchers to contemplate the role of different land uses in a sustainable landscape, including the role of areas under forest management. Based on the common goal of sustainability derived, two real landscapes – the ones in which the properties were located – were analysed. This allowed for a comparison of the ideal sustainable landscape with real landscapes; the definition of the important aspects to be considered in sustainability assessment and an assessment of the feasibility of analysing them. After these exercises, the forest properties were assessed using the barometer of sustainability. One of the properties exhibited a high degree of sustainability and the other a good degree of sustainability. These results can be used to develop policies to support the implementation of forest management in the Caatinga biome, such as mechanisms for payments for the environmental services provided.

SOUZA, C. A. Sustainability assessment of two sites with caatinga vegetation in forests managed for charcoal and firewood production in the semi-arid region of Brazil. (abstract) In: EFFORWOOD CONFERENCE, 2009, Uppsala. Shape your sustainability tools: book of abstract. Uppsala, 2009.

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