The Ecological Society of America (ESA) announced that it has awarded its 1998 Corporate Award to Precious Woods Ltd. in recognition of their work in developing science-based forestry practices to enhance the sustainability of biological resources. ESA believes Precious Woods Ltd. provides an excellent example of how ecological principles can be used to sustainably manage forest resources. The company's practices have also been certified as meeting requirements established by the Rain Forest Alliance's Smart Wood Program.
Precious Woods Ltd. manages 81,000 hectares (ha) of "terra firma" in Amazonas, Brazil for sustainable forest production. They have used advanced planning for long-term management with innovative inclusion of ecological principles. The forest management project began in 1992 and, since 1994, Precious Woods, Ltd. has set aside approximately 25,000 ha (30 percent) of their forest in permanent reserve to provide refugia for wildlife, sources for seed dispersal, and pollinators. They extended the Celos Management System, where one harvest unit of approximately 2,000 ha is cut each year with a rotation cycle of 25 years. At any one time, 91 percent of the rainforest is in permanent or temporary reserve.
Species distributions of 40 tree species are mapped with a Geographical Information System. The data is entered into a forest growth model used to estimate wood volume for future harvests, minimize "high grading," limit the disturbances associated with timber harvesting, and cut a reduced area of forest. No more than 80 percent of the reproductively mature trees of a species are removed in order to ensure a nearby source of seed for recruitment and to provide a continuous food supply for animals. Palms and other species which provide food and shelter for animals are also protected during the cutting. Gap size is minimized to enhance re-growth of shade-tolerant species.