The world’s forests and the wildlife that calls them home are top of mind as climate change and other environmental concerns underscore the need for greater preservation. Forests are major contributors to the health and wellbeing of our planet and those who inhabit it. They are home to 80 percent of terrestrial biodiversity, collect and filter rainfall to protect water quality, act as natural barriers against soil erosion, and help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Close to 1.6 billion people rely on forests for food security, livelihoods and energy sources – that’s more than 20 percent of humanity.
As such, forests and the biodiversity they shelter play an important role in balancing our climate and ecosystems. As global populations increase, forests must also meet the increased demand as a renewable resource, supplying timber for homes and paper for hygiene and many other daily uses of wood-based products. Society’s needs for timber is projected to quadruple by 2050 in an industry that, according to the World Bank, already employs more than 13.2 million people and contributes more than $600 billion to the global economy.
The importance of achieving this growth while continuing to protect wildlife and forests has never been greater. That’s why Bayer works with committed partners to develop new tools for managing our forests in a sustainable way.
Bayer’s Environmental Science business is committed to offering innovative solutions that allow our forestry customers to achieve desired yield rates and improve the efficiency of their plantations, while reducing our environmental impact. If a forest plantation is well managed, it can deliver more cubic meters of wood (or pulp) in fewer hectares, which, in turn, preserves native forests and encourages greater biodiversity and the protection of environmentally sensitive areas.
In Brazil, research has shown that new innovations could provide significant benefits compared to the current tools used in forestry. Bayer has developed next-generation products that require fewer applications (meaning less water usage and carbon emissions) to achieve long-lasting weed control, which allows planted forests to achieve greater productivity.
The industry is also an important contributor toward mitigating the effects of greenhouse gases, a key focus of Bayer’s sustainability commitments. In Brazil, for example, the 7.83 million hectares of trees planted absorb 1.7 billion tons of CO2eq¹ from the atmosphere, according to the Brazilian Tree Industry (Ibá). In addition, for each hectare of planted forests in Brazil, the forestry sector protects 0.7 hectares of natural area – making it a win-win.
(CO2eq¹: Metric used to compare the emissions of several greenhouse gases, based on the global warming potential of each one.)
Our planet has a vital need to ensure forests thrive, today and in the future. That is why Bayer’s innovative technologies and practices protect forests from threats such as insects, diseases and non-native invasive plants. Ongoing research efforts focus on sustaining both planted and native forests, as well as other natural areas including prairies and rangelands.
Our passion for preserving forests is leading to some exciting partnerships with universities, NGOs, private companies and landowners who share that same desire, to improve native forest restoration efforts. Bayer and its South American suppliers have already developed a program called “RevitaBayer,” which plants trees for every ton of CO2 emitted by carriers.
Just like farmers, who must safeguard their land to ensure it continues to produce healthy and abundant crops year after year, forest plantation managers take seriously the proper stewardship needed for maintaining a healthy, sustainable forest. They focus on improving the viability of their operations and a commitment to pass their land on to the next generation in better condition than they received it.
There is much work to be done, but with a continued focus on increased sustainability in the midst of rapid innovation, we are poised to ensure the health of our forests for generations to come. Through collaborative partnerships, innovative technologies and sustainable practices, Bayer continues to work with stakeholders across the globe to help both increase yields on forest lands and preserve native forested areas and ecosystems – for all of us who depend on them.