Ecological landscape plans and biodiversity assessments conducted to identify valuable habitats form the basis for management planning in tree plantations and in our associate forest companies. Our employees and forestry contractors receive on-the-job training on ecological management.
We only establish tree plantations on lands with low biodiversity value, such as former pasturelands. All ecologically important areas are identified and duly protected. We also continuously monitor the impacts of our operations on biodiversity, soil and water resources.
During 2013 we continued our efforts to preserve and enhance biodiversity in various countries:
In Bahia, Brazil, our joint venture company Veracel continued to actively restore Atlantic rainforest habitats in its lands. In addition to overseeing the natural regeneration of native forest in former pasturelands set aside for preservation by Veracel, which now total 105 368 hectares, the company also sources native tree seedlings from local nurseries, and plants them in former pasturelands in sites where natural regeneration is not possible. This voluntary work is part of a government initiative designed
to restore Atlantic rainforest ecosystems and connect the remaining areas with ecological forest corridors, enabling birds and animals to move from one area to another. By the end of 2013 Veracel had planted more than 5 100 hectares of rainforest through partnerships with local cooperatives and companies in sites where natural regeneration has not been possible.
Veracel also works with a shipping company and the Humpback Whale Institute to monitor and conserve humpback whales in Brazilian waters. Pulp shipments from Veracel are transported by barge through waters where the whales breed. This monitoring has helped to establish the safer routes for the sea transportation and proven that the pulp shipments are not interfering with the expanding whale population.
In Uruguay, our joint venture company Montes del Plata is well under way with the implementation of its Ecoregion Planning scheme, which integrates ecoregion landscape criteria into an improved forest planning tool. This involves identifying, mapping and classifying different types of environments to enable the early detection of vulnerability and improvements in environmental and forest management, soil use and site-specific management and conservation practices.
During 2013 all of Montes del Plata's lands were mapped and classified, with the resulting data entered into the company's Geographic Information System. A countrywide Ecological Vulnerability Map was also developed for plantation forestry in Uruguay in collaboration with the local university.