This grant is in support of the Botanical Garden's initiative to improve forest management plans for public and private timber concessions in the Brazilian Amazon by working with the country's Forest Service and Ministry of Education to develop a well-trained forestry labor force. Brazil?s Forestry Code requires that national forests adhere to well-established principles of sustainable management, which include inventories of all tree species to be harvested. Timber concessions hire woodsmen (mateiros) to conduct the inventories with local names, which are then translated into scientific names that appear in the management plans.
Due to the vast numbers of species (up to 300 per hectare) to be found, the expansion of harvesting to hundreds of previously ignored species of timber, and inadequate training, it is estimated that the rate of misidentification timber concessions can reach up to 70 percent, even in certified concessions. Inadequate species identification is the weakest link in Brazil?s efforts to achieve sustainable forest management. The NYBG will provide develop training courses for woodsmen that will ultimately be adopted by the Forest Service and institutionalized as a professional training program at a local technical university. Additional field guides will work toward creating consistency in naming and identification of the thousands of timber species mateiros must regularly recognize.