Updated on 27.03.2015


Technology, from the forest to the processes and products

Technological development is one of the factors that has contributed to Fibria’s leadership in the eucalyptus pulp market, by ensuring the high level of productivity of the plantations and the superior quality of the pulp produced.

The Fibria Technology Center (CT) strives for operational excellence and client satisfaction and to anticipate market demands, in terms of innovation, sustainable development and meeting legal requirements.

The CT carries out research into all the company’s different areas of activity, from the nurseries producing seedlings to the final products, and covering important areas of know-how.

The result is the generating of new technology, for use by the company in its forestry and industrial activities and adding value to the company’s business.

Every year, a variety of different research projects are also carried out for the purpose of fine-tuning processes and results, always in harmony with the principle of environmental conservation.

The studies involve areas such as genetic and genomic improvements, pest and disease control, silviculture and forest management, vegetable physiology and plant propagation, environmental sustainability, and wood, process and product quality, as well as those aimed at the needs of strategic clients.

Genetic Engineering

Fibria has been carrying out research with Genetically Modified Eucalyptus (GM Eucalyptus) since the 1990s, within a controlled environment, including laboratories and greenhouses, and in 2011 began the field trials with the GM Eucalyptus.

The classical methods of genetic improvements in eucalyptus are the main focus of the research carried out by Fibria, and is aimed at the improvement in productivity and wood quality of forests planted by the Company. We believe that the genetic gains from these methods will continue to grow, mainly due to the natural genetic variability of the Eucalyptus genus, which is large but not yet fully explored. However, for some specific objectives, the natural genetic variability is insufficient or not yet identified in the species we work with. In these specific cases, we understand that the GM Eucalyptus may be an important factor to leverage our competitiveness, expanding the natural limits and accelerating the gains obtained through the classical methodology.

This combined strategy – classical improvement complemented by the transgenic biotechnology or other forms of biotechnology – may bring competitive benefits to Fibria and benefits for the society in general, enabling the reduction of resources used, such as soil, water and nutrients, for the pulp production and other products derived from biomass. Among Fibria’s main objectives with this process, we highlight:

  • Increase of tree’s tolerance to stress, particularly water and thermal stress (necessary to face the challenges of climate change);
  • Increase of pulp productivity per area unit (i.e. tons of pulp/ha/year), through the development of more efficient trees in the use of natural resources, that are able to produce more with less (e.g. nutrients and water);
  • Wood quality improvement (lignin content and/or quality, cellulose content, wood density, fiber length). This action strongly contributes to the development of differentiated products and have more added value to society;
  • Herbicides tolerance aiming at reducing productivity losses and the impact of applying different types of herbicides.

In order to make this strategy viable, Fibria respects all the aspects of the Brazilian legislation related to GM Eucalyptus. The company has worked on the elaboration, monitoring and supervision of all the processes and studies related to GM Eucalyptus, including follow-up on the works of the Internal Biosafety Commission. Additionally, several areas of the Company have worked on the tasks of engagement and conversations with society, in general, concerning GM Eucalyptus.

Fibria is in the research-only experimental evaluation phase of the GM Eucalyptus technology, with the intention to demonstrate in the field, the potential benefits, risks and impacts of this new technology, for the Company and society, in general. Aware of its responsibility, while these studies are not conclusive regarding the aforementioned aspects, Fibria has no plans on using GM Eucalyptus in its forest plantations.

Fibria recognizes that apart from the appropriate legal authorizations, it is necessary to engage with different parts of society in order to incorporate societal concerns into the process.

Therefore, Fibria reinforces some important principles, such as transparency and respect to the current legislation, as well as guaranteeing the access and use of products arising from this technology by partners and rural producers with whom Fibira maintains a relationship, generating mutual benefits and following the current successful model adopted in these forest partnerships.

In addition to the work developed by Fibria, the company encourages and participates in cooperative research projects, with partners of recognized scientific legitimacy, aiming at raising data and information on GM Eucalyptus biosafety. Fibria encourages the creation of a Scientific Working Group to identify specialists in biosafety and incorporate their recommendations into the field trials, sharing the obtained results in a transparent manner.

All the information regarding Fibria’s research on GM Eucalyptus is public and is available with the National Technical Biosafety Committee (CTNBio).

Fibria is open to questions and suggestions by email: biotecnologia@fibria.com.br.

Recent innovative projects

The projects that are developed by Fibria with the aim of introducing innovations seek to provide gains in operational excellence and in the environmental and social spheres, in alignment with the company’s sustainability strategy. Notable among the activities devoted to technological development are:

New clones

  • Development of superior new clones, offering important gains in productivity, as measured in tons of pulp per hectare per year (IMA Cel).

Forest protection

  • Development of new technologies for the intelligent use of herbicides, which increase the control time and reduce operating costs, in addition to reducing the impact of their use on the environment.
  • mplementing a strategic plan for controlling the bronze bug (Thaumastocoris peregrinus), a new pest with significant potential to cause damage.
  • Training of teams, testing for chemical and biological control and studies into the possible introduction of natural enemies of the pests affecting the eucalyptus plantations.
  • Studying of new technologies for the monitoring and control of forest fires, using satellite images, and developing a new initial response system.

Environmental sustainability technologies

  • Implementation of the “Fibria Bio-Index”, an important environmental management tool, based on indicators that assist in forest management assessment, with a view to carrying out maintenance or improving the biological diversity of areas where the company operates. Calculating the diversity is based on landscape measurements that attempt to include all the different variables that comprise an environment formed by eucalyptus plantations and natural areas. These include, within the plantations, the varieties of genetic material planted, their age variations and water surplus. In natural areas, it includes the varieties of existing specimens, their percentages in relation to the total area, the measurement of borders, proximity, and central area and the conservation value of the area.

Process technologies

  • Mapping of the Carbon Footprint and optimization of the technologies for cooking and bleaching.
  • Investment in processes that increase the return from the raw materials used and bring down the operating costs.

Product development

  • Research into new applications for the pulp and investigation of other kinds of products derived from our processes.
  • Research into ways of processing the pulp that might be more environmentally friendly.

Technological forecasting

  • Advances in basic and applied knowledge in the areas of biofuels and energy from biomass, derived from eucalyptus and other crops.

Transparency in relation to GMOs

Fibria is participating in a TFD (The Forest Dialogue) initiative focused on the disclosure and discussion of issues related to GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). The company is a member of a group of five forest product companies with global reach that responded to the first GMO questionnaire prepared by the TFD. The material includes all the key questions that civil society organizations and bodies representing indigenous peoples have regarding the forest product sector’s role in the development of GMOs. In accordance with its transparency policy and standard of corporate governance, Fibria answered the questions, ranging from the company’s plans for conducting GMO experiments to the benefits that this activity can bring to the local communities. The company also agreed to make its responses public on the TFD site.