In addition to being crucial to the maintenance of biodiversity, forests play essential social and economic functions for human beings, such as the supply of water, food and medicines, carbon sequestration, climate regulation, and erosion control. The Forest Protection Day celebrated on July 17 is a recognition of this importance.
“When we talk about protecting the forests, we have to consider three essential areas: ecological, economical, and social,” says biologist Guilherme Karam, Business and Biodiversity coordinator at Boticário Group Foundation for Nature Protection.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Global Assessment of Forest Resources 2020, 12% of the world’s forests are in Brazil, totaling 200 million acres -(97% of them are native forests). The GlobalTreeSearch database indicated, in 2019, the existence of 60,082 species of trees in the world, with Brazil being the country with the most extensive diversity, with more than 9,000 species.
According to the Brazilian Forest Service (SFB), the forest economy generated 11,638 formal jobs in Brazil in 2018, considering only areas with native vegetation. Among the opportunities for sustainable use of these areas is the extraction of food, oilseeds, waxes, fibers, and medicinal ingredients that integrate the rich and dynamic chain of natural products. In 2017, 741.4 tons of these products were collected, moving 1.3 billion BRL. Among the most marketed products are mate and açaí. However, experts warn that the withdrawal of products must occur sustainably, without harming the environment.