|Society of American Foresters||International Society of Tropical Foresters|
|Joesio Deoclecio Pieren Siqueira and Mara Freire Rodrigues Souza, Universidade Federal do Paraná|
|Gabriel Penno Saraiva, STCP Consultant|
1. - Country Data
1.1. - General Indicators
|Brazil (officially known as the Federative Republic of Brazil) is formed by the union of 26 States plus a Federal District (Figure 1- see attachment below). Its total area is of 8.5 million km² (850 million hectares (ha) , or 3.3 million mile²), or 47% of South America. Brazil is bordered by the South Atlantic Ocean along its entire coast. In 2007, about 185 million people inhabited Brazil. However, most of this huge population is concentrated along the coasts, while the interior of the country is still characterized by the lack of human presence (Lucci 1999). Brazil was estimated to have 478 million ha of forests in 2005 (FAO (2007). Lucci (1999) describes the landscape, climate, and hydrography of Brazil thoroughly, which we paraphrase in the following three sections.|
1.2 - Landscape
|Around 40% of Brazil’s territory is below 200 meters (650 feet) of altitude; another 45% is between 200 and 600 meters (650 and 2,000 feet); between 600 and 900 meters (2,000 and 3,000 feet) are 12%; and only 3% are mountain areas, above 900 meters (3,000 feet) of altitude. Thus, Brazil’s landscape is divided in two basic landscape units: highlands and lowlands.|
1.2.1. - Highlands
|Highlands occupy approximately 5.0 million km² (500 million ha; 1.8 million mile²), or 59% of Brazil, and are basically distributed in two different large areas, separated by lowlands. The largest one is the Brazilian Highlands, and the smallest the Guiana Highlands.
1.2.2 - Lowlands
|Lowlands cover about 3.5 million km² (350 million ha; 1.4 million mile²) of Brazil, or 41% of its territory. They are divided in three large areas: the Amazon Lowlands, the Coastal Lowlands and the Pantanal Lowlands.
1.3 - Climate
|Due to many factors, Brazil has considerable climatic diversity. These include geographic physiognomy, territorial extension, topography, and air mass dynamics. The last factor is of extreme importance, since it affects both temperature and rainfall directly, causing regional climatic differences. The most important air masses influencing the climate of Brazil are Equatorial (continental and maritime), Tropical (continental and maritime) and Polar (maritime).|
1.3.1 – Equatorial Humid Climate
|In Brazil, the Equatorial Humid Climate occurs in the Amazon Region, in the States of Acre, Amazonas, Roraima, Amapa, Para, the north of the State of Tocantins, the west of the State of Maranhao, and the north of the State of Mato Grosso. It is governed by the Continental Equatorial Air Mass, which is generally warm and moist. This climate’s main characteristics are very high mean temperatures, ranging from 25°C to 29°C (77 to 84ºF), abundant and well distributed mean annual rainfall (about 2,000 mm, or 80 inches), and reduced thermal amplitude, of up to 3ºC (5°F).|
1.3.2. – Tropical Season Climate
|The Tropical Season Climate encompasses the State of Goias, the east of the State of Maranhao, most of the State of Tocantins, the west of the State of Piaui, the south of the State of Mato Grosso, most of the State of Mato Grosso do Sul, the west of the State of Bahia, most of the State of Minas, the west of the State of São Paulo and the north of the State of Paraná. It is characterized by mean annual temperatures, from 20 to 27°C (68 to 81ºF), thermal amplitude between 5 and 7ºC (9 and 13°F), and two well defined seasons: one rainy and another dry. Its mean annual rainfall is of about 1,500 mm (60 inches). The rainy season takes place between November and April, when the Continental Equatorial Air Mass is over this zone, and the dry season occurs when this air masses moves back to the Amazon Region, diminishing the moisture over central Brazil.|
1.3.3 – Tropical Dry Climate
|The Tropical Dry Climate characterizes the interior of northeast Brazil. This region, that encompasses the east of the State of Piaui, the central part of State of Bahia, the west of the State of Sergipe, the west of the State of Alagoas, the west of the State of Pernambuco, the west of the State of Paraiba, the west of the State of Rio Grande do Norte, and most of the State of Ceara, is known as “Poligono das Secas” (Drought Polygon). This region is mostly influenced by the Maritime Tropical Air Mass, however, due to geographic isolation when it arrives to this region it is already depleted of moisture. It is characterized by very high mean temperatures (from 25 to 29ºC, or 77 to 84ºF) and low and poorly distributed annual rainfall. During the southern hemisphere summer (December to March), the Maritime Equatorial Air Mass arrives to this region, providing most of the annual rainfall during this period.|
1.3.4 – Tropical Humid Climate
|This climatic type can be found in a long and thin strip that extends since the east of the State of Rio Grande do Norte until the east of the State of Santa Catarina. It is directly influenced by the Maritime Tropical Air Mass, which is warm and moist, and therefore causes intense rainfall. This climate is warm, with mean annual temperatures varying from 18°C and 26°C (64 and 80ºF), and higher thermal amplitude to the south of this long and thin strip. Mean annual rainfall of 2,000 mm, or 80 inches.|
1.3.5 – Tropical Mountain Climate
|In Brazil, the Tropical Mountain Climate is found in the Brazilian Highlands higher elevations, between 800 and 1,500 meters of altitude (2,600 and 5,000 feet), bordering the southeast Coastal Lowlands, in the east of the States of Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo. It is influenced by the Tropical Maritime Air Mass, which causes a large amount of rainfall during the southern hemisphere summer (December to March). Its mean annual temperature is mild, between 18°C and 22°C (64 and 72ºF), and annual thermal amplitude between 7°C and 9°C (13 and 16ºF). During the southern hemisphere winter (June to September) frosts may occur with a certain frequency due to cold fronts originated from the Maritime Polar Air Mass.|
1.3.6 - Subtropical Humid Climate
|The Subtropical Humid Climate is basically found in the latitudes below the Tropic of Capricorn. It encompasses the south of the State of Sao Paulo, most of the States of Parana, Santa Catrina and Rio Grande do Sul, and the south of the State of Mato Grosso do Sul. It is mostly influenced by the Continental Tropical and by the Maritime Polar Air Masses. This conjunction determinates mean annual temperatures varying between 14°C and 20ºC (57 and 68ºF) and mean annual thermal amplitude of about 10°C (18ºF). Annual rainfall varies between 1,000 and 2,000 mm (40 and 80 inches), and is well distributed along the year. During the southern hemisphere winter (June to September) frosts occur with frequency and occasionally some snow.|
1.4 - Hydrology
|As a large continental country, Brazil possesses one of the largest hydrographic complexes in the world, possessing many rivers with great length, width, and depth. Most of these rivers begin in low altitude regions, with the exception of the Amazon River and some of its tributaries, which begin in the Andes Mountains.
2. - Hydrology
2.1 – Natural Forests
|Five main forest types are found naturally in Brazil: (i) Equatorial Humid Forest (Amazon Forest); (ii) Tropical Seasonal Forest (Cerrado); (iii) Tropical Dry Forest (Caatinga); (iv) Tropical Humid Forest (Atlantic Forest); and (v) Subtropical Humid Forest (Araucaria Forest).|
2.1.1. – Equatorial Moist Forest
|The Amazon Forest covers 60% of Brazil’s territory, or 5.2 million km² (520 million ha; 2 million mile²). It occurs principally in areas with Equatorial Humid Climate (Coelho et al., 2001).
2.1.2 – Tropical Seasonal Forest
|Tropical Seasonal Forest occurs principally in areas with Tropical Seasonal Climate, occupying a zone of more than 2 million km² (200 million ha), or about 23% of Brazil (Coelho et al., 2001). This zone roughly corresponds to the Brazilian and Guiana Highlands. A wide area with rather high rainfall but a pronounced dry season that extends around the wet Amazonian Basin (FAO 2000).
2.1.3 – Tropical Dry Forest
|The Tropical Dry Forest in Brazil is found in areas sheltered from the humid trade winds, where the climate is drier. Rainfall varies between 500 and 1,000 mm (20 and 40 inches) or less, with a dry season of 6 to 9 months. Temperatures are always high near the Equator (mean temperature of the coldest month greater than 20°C, or 68ºF). In Brazil, this vegetation is known as Caatinga, xerophytic vegetation types varying from dense to very open (see picture 3 - attached below). The trees are more or less deciduous, thin-stemmed and with a low canopy, from 5 to 15 meters (15 to 50 feet). The flora is rich, with fairly numerous Leguminosae species, and often includes Cactaceae. The palms assume considerable importance in flood plains (FAO 2001).
2.1.4 – Tropical Humid Forest
|The Atlantic Forest (“Mata Atlantica”) stretches along Brazil's Atlantic coast, from the northern state of Rio Grande do Norte to the southern State of Rio Grande do Sul. It also includes the offshore archipelago of Fernando de Noronha and several other islands off the Brazilian coast (CI 2008).
2.1.5 – Subtropical Humid Forest
|According to FAO (2000), the Subtropical Humid Forest zone, known in Brazil as the Araucaria Forest (“Mata das Araucarias”), includes highlands in south and southeast Brazil, in altitudes above 500 meters (1,600 feet) (see picture 5 - attached below). The two main climatic characteristics are lower temperatures in winter (mean temperature of the coldest month less than 15°C, or 59ºF) and rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year, varying between 1,000 and 2,500 mm (40 and 100 inches).
2.2 - Planted Forests
|According to ABRAF (2008), total area planted with Eucalyptus and Pinus (main genera planted in Brazil) was 5.6 million hectares in 2007 (see picture 6 and 7 - attached below). This area grew in size by 3.4% in relation to 2006, as summarized in Table 1.|
|Table 1 – Plantation Area of Pinus and Eucalyptus in Brazil, 2005-2007 (1,000 ha)|
|Source: ABRAF; STCP
3- Industrial Forest Investments
|Brazil is currently experiencing a new cycle of industrial forest plantation expansion. Increasing demand and attractive prices for several forest products, as well as Brazil’s silvicultural competitive and comparative advantages, based on its strong forest research and development (R&D), and the consequent fast growth and high forest yields, are the main factors behind the management decision for the construction of new forest industries and expansion of the existing ones. These new projects are concentrated in the south, southeast and center-west regions of Brazil. The most favored sectors are pulp and paper, wood panels, and charcoal for iron metallurgy (ABRAF 2008). These investments have attracted both national and foreign capital. In the pulp and paper sector alone, there have been investments of about USD $12 billion in the last 10 years (ABRAF 2008).
4 – Amazon Issues
|Of course, the greatest issues about forest in Brazil relate to the Amazon (see Verrissimo and Lentini 2008 in this enyclopedia). Perhaps the fundamental issue driving forest policy issues in the Brazilan Amazon is the ongoing rapid rate of deforestation. The United Nations FAO (2007) data indicate that Brazil lost about 42 million hectares of forests from 1990 to 2005, decreasing from 520 million ha to 478 million ha. This would be an average loss of 2.8 million ha per year, or 0.5%. The loss amounted to an overall of 8% of the 1990 forest area by 2005. The rate of forest loss actually increased slightly from 2000 to 2005, at 3.1 million ha per year, or 0.6% per year (FAO 2007). Not all of this loss occurs in the Amazon, but the majority does. INPE (2008) estimates that the Amazon lost an average of 18,000 km2 (1.8 million ha) per year of forests from 1990 to 2005, although this decreased to about 14,000 km2 in 2006 and 11,000 km2 in 2007.
5 - Conclusion
|Brazil has the largest forest area in the Americas with 478 million ha (FAO 2007), and is second only to the Russian Federation for having the largest forest area in the world. These forests consist of highland topography (59%) that are more than 200 meters in elevation, but only 3% of this area is in mountainous areas above 900 meters. The lowlands cover 350 million ha, which more area than all the forests in any other country in the Americas. Brazil has a tropical climate for most of its forests, with a small area of subtropical forests in the South.
6 - Supporting Documents
|a.) Table 1 - Media:Brazil-Table-01.xls|
|b.) Table 2 - Media:Brazil-Table-02.xls|
|7 - References|
|ABRAF (Associação Brasileiro de Productores de Florestas Planatadas) Anuário Estatístico 2008 – Ano Base 2007. Brasilia, 2008.
Joesio Deoclecio Pieren Siqueirai is STCP Director; he has a Bachelor of Forestry; Master of Forest Management; Doctor of Forest Policy and Economy, and is Forestry Professor of the Universidade Federal do Parana.