Environmental performance - Water resource management
Fibria continuously monitors catchment areas (learn more in the glossary) within its operational areas, to prevent or minimize potential impacts from forest management, as regards the quantity and quality of water.
At the Aracruz Unit (Espírito Santo, Bahia and Minas Gerais states), monitoring of water resources is conducted on 12 catchment areas and is linked to the Catchment Areas Project, where the water cycle of an experimental catchment area with eucalyptus plantations is studied and analyzed in detail. In this experimental area, it is possible to assess the environmental impacts and ecological interactions of the plantations on surface water and groundwater, and then compare and extrapolate results to the 12 catchment areas of the monitoring network. The studies are conducted by staff from Fibria’s Technology Center. Participation in these studies also extends to Brazilian and international research institutions: Federal University of Viçosa (UFV); Federal University of Espírito Santo State (UFES); Federal University of Lavras (UFLA); Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), an Australian research organization; and the NGO Nature Conservancy (TNC), among others. These institutions support the development or enhancement of techniques suitable for monitoring the use and production of water in landscapes in which eucalyptus is inserted. From the measurement technique developed or protocol issued, routine monitoring is deployed and conducted by Fibria’s Forest Environment area in its plantation areas.
In 2012, the Catchment Areas Project installed monitoring equipment in a new catchment area containing a eucalyptus plantation, located in Aracruz, Espírito Santo state. This study, along with studies for the Águas Claras Experimental Catchment Area, which was created in 2010, will enable Fibria to conduct a comparative analysis between the two types of eucalyptus plantations and their respective effects on water production per catchment area.
Monitoring of water resources at the Jacareí Unit, in São Paulo state, is conducted through the Catchment Area Environmental Monitoring Network (Remam) by the Institute for Forest Research and Studies of the Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture, at the University of São Paulo (IPEF/ESALQ-USP) and takes place in two catchment areas. In 2011, forestry operations at the Jacareí Unit did not alter the quality or quantity of water available, according to a report released by Remam/Promab. Studies and research based on the Catchment Areas Project began in 2012 at Jacareí, with the installation of monitoring wells for groundwater in two experimental catchment areas at Igaratá and Capão Bonito, and quantification of the growth of eucalyptus plantations in relation to water used per catchment area.
At the Três Lagoas Unit, Mato Grosso do Sul state, monitoring is conducted by Fibria in three catchment areas, where water quality and quantity are assessed. It should be noted that the analyses of water samples are consistent with the results of studies on the effects of forest management on physicochemical parameters of the water in catchments located in other areas. There was no evidence of significant changes as a result of forest management during the year. In 2012, two catchment areas for research purposes were defined at the Três Lagoas Unit. This completes the study on experimental catchment areas conducted under the Fibria Catchment Areas Project. In these two new catchment areas, currently under pasture, the transition from pasture use to eucalyptus plantations, and its effects on water resources, will be tested.
Also in 2012, Fibria’s meteorological station network, which is essential for monitoring the water balance of plantations, was extended through the installation of five new stations at the Aracruz, Jacareí and Três Lagoas units.
Fibria also tracks its water footprint, to identify the amount of water used throughout its production process. This includes the volume of water used for planting. Since 2010, the company has been a member of the Water Footprint Network (WFN). Learn more about this topic in the “Main Commitments” chapter (GRI 4.12 e 4.13).
In 2012 Fibria moved forward the implementation of the water use overlap project. The goal of the project is to evaluate demands related to water resources, so as to develop methodologies that promote community participation in water basin management. The company is assessing the water use overlap, while avoiding interfering with the supply of water to local communities. Moreover, Fibria clarifies doubts and analyzes, on a case by case basis, questions about diminished water in springs, wells or ponds. Actions are taken according to how critical the demand is. In 2012, nine demands were received and treated as follows:
Total water discharge by quality and destination (GRI EN21)
Water discharged from nurseries comes from two sources: irrigation and domestic wastewater. At the Vale do Paraíba Forest Unit, water is discharged into a filtration pond; at the Capão Bonito Forest Unit, discharge occurs into a filtration trench. At the Três Lagoas Unit, domestic wastewater is sent to septic tanks or used as irrigation water, which is directed to a soak pit and absorbed in the soil. At the Aracruz Unit, wastewater passes through a gravel box, for the retention of solids, before it is run off. In 2012, a system went into operation to capture rainwater and water treatment plant nursery of Aracruz. The nurseries in Três Lagoas and Aracruz measured the effluents generated in 2012 that amounted to 102,890 m³. In the Aracruz nursery 74.000m³ were generated between July and December 2012. The effluent is directed to a containment basin to be subsequently reused to irrigate an area of 20 hectares of eucalyptus near the nursery. The volume of water disposed in forestry operations is not representative compared with industrial operations. It equates to approximately 1% of the volume disposed of in factories.