Location decisions regarding forest plantations in Brazil : Which aspects are important to actors in the Brazilian tree industry?

University essay from KTH/Hållbar utveckling, miljövetenskap och teknik

Abstract: Brazilian productive forest plantations and sustainability is a continuous subject of debate, since such forest plantations constitute an increasing proportion of the Brazilian forest cover, and because of documented instances where some establishments have resulted in negative impacts on local ecosystems and communities. Meanwhile, balancing economic, environmental and social sustainability is becoming an important concern in industrial decision-making given the increasing importance of the global sustainability goals. The aim of this study is to investigate the contemporary decision context in which companies in the Brazilian tree industry select locations for forest plantations in Brazil. Special focus is devoted to how sustainability aspects are included in such decisions, as well as the roles assigned to possible mechanisms for sustainable development, such as Brazilian policy, legislation and independent forest certification. A qualitative research strategy is employed, which encompasses a literature review and semi-structured interviews with industry practitioners in two segments of the industry, whose perceptions are triangulated with perspectives of relevant non-industry actors. Grounded theory is used to analyse the qualitative data. The findings from the literature and the qualitative data are synthesised, and several hypotheses are consequently developed regarding forest plantation location decisions and sustainability in Brazil. The hypotheses evolve around the finding that strategic, economic, environmental and social perspectives are perceived as present in contemporary decision-making, in certified pulp and paper companies. Moreover, a hypothesis of general character is developed based on the synthesised findings, which is that forest plantations can be the subject of integrated location and sustainability analyses, where the problem can be formulated as finding an optimal location for a forest plantation from a three-dimensional sustainability perspective. Finally, some prospects for further integrated research about forest plantation location and sustainability are presented.

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