FAQ is the section for frequently asked questions at the Veracel’s website. The questions below answer the most recurrent doubts from internet users, communities living next to our mill, NGOs and society at large. If you have any doubt on a subject connected to the company, please contact Veracel through Talk To Us.
Q1 - Can one ask questions, criticize, report or make suggestions directly to Veracel?
Yes, the company is open to dialog with its publics of interest to clear up any doubt about its action, receive reports, criticism, suggestions and even anonymous complaints. The company gives access information about available channels for communications in local media and within communities. Additionally, it instructs a number of its professionals working in forest activities to become interlocutors with the community. These channels are audited periodically. The most far-reaching ones are:
– www.veracel.com.br (Speak to us or Anonymous Communication)
– Veracel Celulose S.A. Comunicação Fale Conosco – Caixa Postal 21 – Eunápolis/BA – CEP: 45820-970 – Brazil
Finally, Veracel believes in the legality and lawfulness with which it carries out its activities, as well as that of its professionals and commercial partners, with whom it maintains relationships guided by transparently established duties and responsibilities.
Veracel performs its activities in accordance with international standards for certification and established procedures structured to identify the socio-environmental aspects and impacts of its activities, their respective mitigating measures, and watching over the compliance of such measures. The company is committed to the continuous improvement of its procedures, so it invests in training professionals and establishing efficient communication channels with its publics of interest, seeking active dialog. The company is fully aligned with the concept of green economy, which cannot be considered false or irresponsible. Veracel’s model for Sustainability management focuses on the construction of ethical, quality relations, so that its action is in tune with the development of the territory with which it interacts.
Q2 - Does Veracel corrupt civil servants by bribery of funding political campaigns to gain favor?
No. Veracel believes in the legality and lawfulness with which it pursues its activities, and also in the ethics and professionalism of its directors and employees. In order to demonstrate its non-partisanship, since 2008 the company has not supported political campaigns, whether those of candidates or political parties. At the time it did, prior to that year, it kept records in the website of the TSE (Superior Electoral Tribunal), for public information (www.tse.com.br).
Q3 - Does the implementation and maintenance of eucalyptus plantations include financial loss and even land invasion for rural proprietors?
No. Veracel complies with legislation in force, adding socio-environmental care oriented by its Sustainability Agenda and principles in its certifications.
Regarding accusations of illegal possession and misappropriation of two rural properties, which were not a part of the leasing contract maintained with the company Suprema Empreendimentos Rurais, Veracel wishes to make it clear that this sentence was also declared null, by the Justice Tribunal of Bahia State; due to not having provided the evidence needed to prove the owner’s consent to such planting. The company thus ratifies its ethical entrepreneurial behavior, guided by transparently established duties and responsibilities, and it will prove during the procedural instruction phase that planting was regular and in conformity with what was agreed upon with the landowner.
Q4 - What’s the actual situation of the lawsuits against Veracel?
With regard to labor suits, labor law allows any employee or former employee to vindicate any rights they feel entitled to, even when such rights have been rigorously respected by the employer. As at October 2012, 200 labor lawsuits have been filed by Veracel employees. The remaining claims were filed by employees of companies providing services to Veracel, which was named as a subsidiary responsible party.
With regard to Federal Public Civil Suits quoted in this connection, which is related to the matter of licensing, it must be emphasized that application of the sentence has been suspended pending a final decision at the superior instance, currently awaiting trial at the Federal Regional Tribunal.
The environmental licensing of Veracel’s activities is valid, because the environmental body had and still has the discretion to define the contents and manner of presentation of the studies necessary for the environmental licensing obtained by Veracel in 1993; the content of the studies carried out met the criteria of environmental legislation in force at the time; the EIA/RIMA (Environmental Impact Study/Environmental Impact Report) prepared by Veracel complies with the environmental bodies’ requirements; and in addition, the pertinent documents prove that the realization and approval of EIA/RIMA took place in the terms set out by the environmental bodies.
The other Public Civil Suits are still at the initial stage. The company has already presented its solidly grounded defense arguments, some of which were submitted spontaneously, before called for. There is still no final conclusion regarding these.
Lastly, the Public Civil Suit in connection with outsourcing, the sentence for which was quoted, was declared null by the Regional Labor Tribunal, which recognized that Eunápolis Labor Court was definitely not competent to judge this Public Civil Suit; ordering the remittance of the lawsuit to Salvador Labor Court. Veracel believes in the legality and lawfulness with which it carries out its activities, especially concerning contracts for services with its partners, and the quality of its labor relations with its employees.
Q5 - Does Veracel engage in deforestation or compromise biodiversity or the quality of water or soil?
No. Veracel does not engage in deforestation, but it does invest in operations and initiatives designed to protect and preserve natural resources.
Additionally, it is important to stress that for every hectare planted the company maintains another environmentally protected hectare. Veracel does not plant eucalyptus within a 10-kilometer strip from the coast. It adopts the concept of mosaic landscape, which calls for creating corridors of native forest among eucalyptus plantations. In these fragments, which are undergoing a clear and proved process of recuperation, the fauna and flora gain better shelter and feeding.
Veracel’s establishing forest management concepts implies steering all processes, programs and activities so as to broaden positive environmental impacts while minimizing possible negative ones.
Veracel plans the use and occupation of land, respecting areas of Permanent Preservation, Legal Reserve and Conservation Units, growing eucalyptus only on anthropic areas (which have already suffered human intervention), usually areas previously used for pasture. Where Atlantic Forest is registered in the 1994/95 orthophoto charts, the company provides environmental protection but does not plant eucalyptus.
A third party carries out periodic monitoring of quality of water, soil, emissions into the atmosphere, fauna and flora. The results are forwarded to public environmental bodies and made available in the company’s website.
Veracel’s plantation makes use of state of the art technology, aiming for minimum impact and best productivity per hectare, as well as generating local development. To this end, it promotes professional qualifications and development of local suppliers and providers, while paying substantial tax and fostering structuring public/private partnerships for socio-productive inclusion and socio-environmental investment. Please check out the Management Plan and news available at www.veracel.com.br.
Q6 - What insecticides are used in Veracel’s eucalyptus plantations?
Veracel only uses agrochemicals approved by competent bodies not in the list of agrochemicals forbidden by FSC®.
Veracel adopts integrated management of pests and diseases, which consists of the implementation of different control methods, with planned and harmonious use of chemical, physical, biological and cultural processes, ensuring productivity, environmental protection and safety of the people involved. To ensure the rational use of agrochemicals, the control methods adopted follow this priority: biological control, natural alternative control and selective agrochemicals with less toxicity.
The company uses forest monitoring in 100% of its plantations, with biological and chemical controls carried out only in areas with high levels of infestation by pests and diseases. In addition, the mosaic of Atlantic Forest associated with commercial plantations keep up the diversity of population of natural enemies of insects, contributing to the natural control of the main pests present in eucalyptus forests.
Q7 - What products are used specifically to combat leafcutter ants? And what quantities?
Veracel uses sulfluramid-based ant bait to control leafcutter ants. Control is carried out in accordance with the level of infestation by these insects in each stripe of land. This information is obtained from the results of monitoring the company’s areas. The objective of this monitoring is to optimize the use of ant bait, keeping the dose to the minimum necessary for each stripe of land.
Q8 - What harmful effects do these products have on the environment?
Soil and water analyses are performed periodically to identify any possible presence of agrochemical residue. To date no such residues have been detected contaminating watercourses or soil in the company’s areas. Fauna and flora are also monitored and, in accordance with results obtained, the use of these agrochemicals has not influenced the dynamics of local fauna and flora.
Q9 - What preventive measures are taken to avoid accidents when handling insecticide?
All employees involved in activities linked to the chemical control of pests and diseases are trained annually by SENAR (National Service for Rural Training) in connection with proper handling and application of agrochemicals. The following subjects are included during training: health norms; labor safety and accident prevention; first aid; PPE (personal protective equipment); preparation of syrup and application of agrochemicals; triple washing and return of empty agrochemical packaging. The use of PPE is compulsory whenever agrochemicals are applied, which is supplied free of charge to forest workers. Moreover, DDSs (Daily Dialogs on Safety) are carried out periodically, where related subjects are brought up.
Q10 - How is empty packaging disposed of?
The empty containers of agrochemicals are washed three times, and packaging that is not washable is properly conditioned. They are then returned to duly authorized collection centers.
Q11 - What are the most common pests affecting eucalyptus?
Leafcutter ants are considered the main pest in eucalyptus reforestation, because of the damage they do. Additionally, there are sporadic occurrences of leafcutterbeetles and caterpillars.
Q12 - How much annual loss in eucalyptus productivity is on record due to attacks by pests?
Studies are in progress in the company to quantify losses in eucalyptus productivity due to pests, the results to which are still preliminary. However, according to a Master’s Degree dissertation by researcher Rozimar de Campos Pereira (Pereira, R.C. 1998;Species of leafcutter ants in eucalyptus plantations – relation with environmental factors and leaf consumption; Viçosa, UFV, p.114)on the consumption of leaves by leafcutter ants in populations of Eucalyptus grandis, swarming ants (Atta subterraneus molestans)with two active anthills are reckoned to consume a total of leaves equivalent to 17.4 two-year-old trees in summer and 13.6 in winter.
Q13 - What does Veracel do with wood from condemned or unused eucalyptus trees?
Eucalyptus wood that cannot be used for the production of pulp because of attack by pests or disease is used as fuel for the biomass boiler generating energy for the plant.
Q14 - Are workers applying insecticide specially trained for the job?
All forest workers involved in activities linked to chemical or biological control of pests and diseases are trained annually by SENAR on handling and applying agrochemicals, as stated earlier.
Q15 - Do eucalyptus producers fostered by Veracel use the same insecticides? Do they have technical assistance or training?
Handling in (fostered) Forest Producer’s areas is the same as in Veracel’s own areas, regarding both the use of agrochemicals in their properties and full compliance with the applicablelaw. Veracel offers adequate technical assistance for the performance of all activities carried out on Forest Producer’s properties.
Q16 - Does eucalyptus monoculture draw more water than other monocultures?
Eucalyptus is usually criticized for its water voraciousness. Effectively, the high water consumption is the reason for its fast growth. However, the eucalyptus monoculture uses surface water, as the roots are average 2.5-meter deep. Water tables are usually located 15 and 25 meters deep, therefore preserved from the eucalyptus action. By comparison, coffee and sugarcane use as much water or even more than eucalyptus.
Q17 - Is it possible to tour the Veracel facilities?
Veracel currently holds two visiting programs – one to the Mill and another to Veracel Station – increasing the proximity with nearby communities. Some tours are conducted under request by different stakeholders – community, public authority and non-governmental organizations, among others. To meet these demands, Veracel has been developing the systematic Tour Program, through which it welcomed 496 people in 2008 and another 1,574 in 2009.
In addition to the tours of the Mill, Veracel received 1,080 people from 24 schools and churches from communities located next to the Veracel Station, through the program RPPN with Open Doors. The Veracel Station received also another 7,570 people who visited the reserve in 2008 and 2009.
Q18 - Does Veracel use agrochemicals in eucalyptus planting?
The need to use agrochemicals and their impact are subjects constantly raised by Veracel’s stakeholders. In fact, eucalyptus plantations need insecticides against pests such as leaf-cutting ants. They damage any kind of culture, not only forestry. However, the Atlantic Forest mosaic associated with the commercial plantation provides such a balance that reduces the use of chemicals, as native forests have natural enemies that prey upon the pests that attack eucalyptus.
Veracel contracts for specialized companies to monitor soil and water. By today, the monitoring of rivers in the region has not detected any residues from the products used by the company. The monitoring work has also revealed that there has been no negative effect in the local fauna. Veracel uses products with low toxicity both for people and the fauna at large, and they also present high solubility in water.
Q19 - Reforestation deforests native forest areas to plant eucalyptus. Is this true?
No. Veracel is inserted in the “Atlantic Forest Central Corridor” – comprehending southern Bahia and entire Espírito Santo. Aware of the importance of promoting sustainable forest management, Veracel works toward creating ecological corridors in the region of the Atlantic Forest Program (PMA), created by the company in 1994.
PMA aims at the conservation of existing forest remnants, monitoring fauna, flora and environmental quality (soil and water) and environmental restoration, by connecting Atlantic Forest fragments and forming a chain of interconnected forest reserves. PMA has already restored 3,500 ha and is aimed at restoring 400 ha/year, with the challenge to plant 80 different species per hectare, thus strengthening species diversity.
The commitment to establish ecological corridors is evidenced by its insertion in the project Sustainable Forest Mosaics, where Veracel together with other companies and NGOs (Ibio and Conservation International), plan for strategies to connect its areas while providing their conservation. In 2009, Veracel became a signatory to the Atlantic Forest Pact, a movement for restoration and awareness-raising on the value of forest.
According to its granted environmental license, Veracel does not plant eucalyptus in:
• Atlantic Forest fragments converted after November 1994, aimed at complying with the FSC certification standard.
• Areas where orthophoto maps (1995/1996) identified native vegetation with primary forests or in middle and advanced regeneration stages;
• A 10-km wide land strip along the coast, in order to preserve the natural characteristics of the Discovery Coast; and
• Area exceeding the total percentage licensed per municipality for own planting, that is, 15% of the total effectively planted areas for coastal cities and 20% for the others.
Q20 - Local rainfall has been reduced over the years. Is eucalyptus high water consumption a reason for that?
Rainfall, both in southern Bahia and around the world, is result of a global phenomenon of air mass movement, with water consumption by forest formations having no direct influence in regional rainfall.
Furthermore, that has been no such a trend of reduced rainfall in the region. We have been observing a greater variation of rainfall occurrences – intercalating dry and rainy years – especially provoked by global climate change phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña.
Q21 - Does the labor force with Veracel come from the region next to the mill?
Partially yes. In 2008, 38% (73) of 192 openings filled were people from the region. In 2009, this percentage increased significantly: 82% (62 people) out of 85 openings filled. In January 2010, we hired 66 people, 100% from the region (Eunápolis and Itagimirim).
By using the existing structure and teaching technology of the National Service for Industrial Training (Senai), Veracel achieved the purpose of contributing to differentiated training of people from the region and surroundings, therefore providing improved conditions for their employability.
Today, Veracel has about 700 direct employees. It is also responsible for generating over 2,400 permanent jobs, occupied by professionals born or living in the municipalities around the Mill. In addition, in 2008 and 2009, it invested over R$ 670 million to hire local service providers and over R$ 1.5 million in local procurement.
As the Company’s activities require qualified labor force, Veracel has been maintaining professional training programs ever since the start of operations, such as forest machine operators and pulp technicians, thus allowing us to prioritize local professionals.
Q22 - What does Veracel do to encourage return of rural works to the field?
Veracel develops initiatives in partnership with communities organized in associations and institutions for technical support and incentive/credit, in addition to the participation of the public authority.
Get to know the projects for income generation developed by Veracel.
Q23 - What is to be done regarding the eucalyptus monoculture? Is there any future action relative to changes in this model and the impact it causes?
The large-scale production of goods and services serves to meet the great demands by society. As the world population grows, the same occurs with the need to supply additional water, electric energy, transportation systems, and others. Likewise, sugarcane, eucalyptus, soy, cotton plantations, livestock and other activities are performed in large-scale to meet the society’s demand. This is the case of eucalyptus, used to make furniture, coal, pulp, to meet the demand for books, hygiene products such as diapers, toilet paper, packaging, medicines and dozens of industrial applications. The very same way other cultures are necessary to support the production of food, apparel or fuels.
Veracel is part of a business model that is not the only possible. However, we are committed to adapt ourselves to keep meeting our customers’ demands and, at the same time, to be in line with guidelines that ensure sustainability and are consistent with social consensus.
As initiatives that legitimize our stance we mention:
– Experiments and incentive to shared use of land (eucalyptus and other cultures);
– Implementation of family farming projects in areas of its property, where there is a buffer in eucalyptus plantation next to rural communities;
– Expansion of the Forest Producer Program, with use of their property for multiple purposes;
– Implementation of projects for multiple use of wood and commercial planting (sawmills and beekeeping).
In every situation, it is necessary to work according to the actuality of each location. The company understands that it should analyze and verify how to reconcile the local community dynamics with its needs, question continually its business model, and search for future models that would bring less social and environmental impact.
Q24 - What is to be done relative to the social issue in the municipality where Veracel has plantations?
Through its Corporate Social Responsibility policy, Veracel supports, and will continue supporting, municipal governments in developing their public policies, so as to minimize the most significant social problems. We would like to mention some initiatives:
Remodeling, expansion and equipment
Expansion and structuring of the Guaratinga Maternity, remodeling for Fábio Souto Maternity/ Itapebí, Barrolândia, Ponto Central, remodeling and expansion of José Maria de Magalhães Neto Municipal Hospital/ Eunápolis (in progress), construction of the municipal care center and children education center/ Itagimirim.
Regarding projects to support municipal education, activities were performed in the municipalities of Guaratinga, Itagimirim, Itapebi, Mascote, village of Barrolândia (Belmonte), district of Mundo Novo / Eunápolis, Ponto Central / Santa Cruz Cabrália, Santa Maria Eterna / Belmonte, Boca do Córrego / Belmonte and surroundings of Eunápolis, with infrastructure improvement, creation of libraries and computer rooms.
Educational qualification – 2008
It was aimed at supporting municipal schools with qualification for teachers, contributing to improve teaching quality in the region.
Q25 - Why doesn’t Veracel invest in the population living in level of total deprivation?
The Veracel’s business model includes also the regional development. Ever since the start of industrial operations, the company has identified, through socioeconomic diagnoses, the almost inexistence of basic infrastructure in the municipalities where it operates. Making investments for changing this actuality has become the focus of the company’s social responsibility, as, without minimum living conditions, the implementation of more structuring projects would be unfeasible, that is, those encouraging entrepreneurship and income generation.
Likewise, basic sanitation works were performed, improvements in health, education and security, for, in a second stage, to start working on development of the communities, by means of qualification of groups, which might contribute as agents for transformation of the local actuality. In line with this, Social Networks have been created, starting from the principle of appreciation of skills and potential of each community, which receives qualification to prepare and implement their projects. The major target is that those groups might identify key issues that would change their actuality.
This methodology allows the community itself to identify alternatives and become co-responsible for the process of inserting individuals who are in the process of exclusion.
Q26 - Is Veracel able to hire the students graduated in the technical course in Pulp?
Just like it happened after the conclusion of training programs sponsored by Veracel, people trained and available in the region are invited to participate in recruitment processes.
Regarding those who concluded the 1st program for graduation of pulp technicians in 2003 and 2004, 90 people were hired at the mill start of operations in 2005. Along the following years, other students trained and available in our database of resumes were invited to participate in recruitment processes, for a total of 120 people hired after attending the program. Another example is the use of 80% of students graduated from the course in Forestry Machinery Operation in openings at Veracel between 2001 and 2009 (257 people).
Q27 - Why there is no transparent release of the social programs conducted by the company?
Just the opposite, Veracel endeavors to give visibility and transparency to its actions. To meet this objective, the company relies on its own communication means and on the local media to reach the communities in which it is inserted.
As a communication strategy, Veracel has been strengthening its press agency work, as well as visit and relationship programs, appreciating the direct and personal contact with stakeholders or, in another front, seeking the intermediation of the regional media outlets. Therefore, the company seeks to strengthen the relationship with people and give more legitimacy to its releases.
Those are described below:
1 – Veracel Website
– Reports distributed by the company to the media, in chronological order.
– Technical and scientific studies produced by the company on environmental topics.
– Electronic version of Sustainability reports and analysis published by the company.
– Electronic version of policies and an abstract of the management plan.
– Institutional and operational information
– Access to Talk To Us System.
2 – Sustainability Report/Analysis
It is publication approaching this topic within the company’s operations. On an annual basis, the company publishes and distributes copies or discloses the link for access by public managers, NGOs, partner companies, shareholders, trade entities, among others. In addition, it is available at the company’s website, in English and Portuguese, together with previous versions.
3 – Op-eds
Every month, the company selects a socio-environmental topic to be approached in a page of major printed newspapers of the region, and also in A Tarde newspaper (statewide circulation). The regional news websites also receive the articles, as a link in electronic banner, therefore increasing the coverage via web. This practice has been maintained by the company for two years now, as part of its media plan.
4 – Press Agency
Systematically, the company sends texts to the local media, seeking spontaneous news on its actions. Adherence is significant, according to our daily monitoring. However, these texts are also available at the company’s website.
5 – Program of Tours
The company maintains a program of tours including the ten municipalities where the company does business, by receiving people 15 and older (for safety reasons) in industrial and forest areas of the company. In 2009, over 1,500 people participated in the program. In the opportunity, the programs, projects and socio-environmental contributions are also presented.
6 – Promotion and participation in events
In events promoted by the company or by other institutions, Veracel has the opportunity to present its activities. In 2009, the company promoted meetings with public managers, environmental education events, and participated in a number of regional, national and international seminars, symposiums, conferences and public hearings. In addition, the company was represented in work groups, where socio-environmental presentation is an ongoing activity. The Forestry Forum is one such example.
Q28 - Why does Veracel pay Tax for Services (ISS) to the municipality of Eunápolis, if there is a process disputing the municipality boundary, alleging that its correct location is in Belmonte?
Exactly because it is a suit in progress, with decision pending, Veracel cannot change the tax payment, being it the exclusive responsibility of the Public Authority. The State of Bahia is responsible for delimiting its municipalities, and Veracel respects and will always respect the boundaries that are in force.
Q29 - What has been done about the Village of Guaxuma, which is surrounded by eucalyptus and has difficulty farming and fishing in the region?
The indigenous community of Guaxuma, located in the municipality of Porto Seguro, is supported by Veracel, through its inclusion in a number of projects developed by the company with traditional communities, including the Program for Indigenous Education and the Program for Visits of the Indigenous Community. Through the Program for Indigenous Education, over the last three years, all students enrolled in the schools at the village received school kits and, in addition to the activities of the program, in view of a demand from the community itself, in 2009 the students also received school uniforms, and the school received a computer for its management.
With the Program for Visits developed by the company, indigenous from the Guaxuma Village visited the Mill, to get acquainted and clarify their doubts on the pulp production process, and were also visited by employees in their community for active and transparent dialogue between the parties.
Also in 2009, upon request from the Guaxuma indigenous community, 10,000 seedlings of native trees were donated to be planted at the springs existing in the area. The Guaxuma Village consists of Pataxó indigenous dissident from the Barra Velha Village (Mother Village) and it is located in an area not recognized by FUNAI as indigenous land, what makes it difficult to meet some demands from the community.
Q30 - How could the Mata Medonha indigenous village community receive more support from Veracel?
The projects developed by Veracel are aimed at comprehending all indigenous communities located in the municipalities where the company operates, including the Mata Medonha indigenous village. The purpose of the projects with traditional communities is to serve all villages, however the chronological order for participation in such events does not depend exclusively on Veracel. The prioritization for development of projects is a joint work with the local Funai Support Center, in Porto Seguro and Itamarajú.
Regarding additional support, it is worth mentioning that the demands from all indigenous communities are equally treated by Veracel, and during meetings and visits at the mill and at the village, the indigenous are advised on the progress of their demands and receive clarification on the projects developed. This information is also imparted at the meetings of Chief Councils in the region.