Professional Woodsmen for Managed Forests in Amazonian Brazil

Douglas C. Daly

Quantitative forest inventories, in which large numbers of trees are mapped, measured, and named, form the basis of estimates for standing stock of timber and of management plans that when approved allow forest concessions to harvest particular species and volume of timber. Following the determination by my Acre, Brazil team that in Amazonian forest inventories the majority of species are misidentified, and that the human resources, identification tools and protocols are seriously flawed, one of my primary research commitments is to fundamentally improve the aspects of forest inventory that relate to tree diversity. We designed courses for training mateiros, the key personnel who perform the field identifications for inventories, and we are busy expanding the reach of these courses from national production forests and extractive reserves to include the private sector and (for planning purposes) national parks. I convinced the Brazilian Forest Service (SFB) to formally invite NYBG to have an advisory role in forest inventory, and I was invited by the SFB to be a consultant pro bono in a project to evaluate and plan the (badly needed) overhaul of the national wood collection, which comprises the official reference for the identity of Brazil’s timber resources.

During our training courses, we are developing image-based field keys for distinguishing the members of species that are confused in inventories because they resemble each other or have the same or similar common names. Moreover, we are finishing a glossary of simple botanical terms for use by mateiros, fully illustrated and in simple Portuguese language.