Neocert Certificações was present at the HDOM Summit, the main event dedicated to executives, managers and forest investors in Brazil, held on november 16 and 17. Guilherme Lopes, Forest Management Experience Leader, and Lineu Siqueira Jr., member of the Board of Directors, participated in person and brought us the main points discussed in this meeting organized by Malinovski.
In the text below, by Guilherme Lopes, you will find a summary of the second and last day, which had themes that highlighted the importance of the human factor in forest competitiveness, through leadership and governance, training and innovation.
Panel 1. ESG in the eyes of CEOs
It was a consensus in this panel that forestry companies, especially those that have socio-environmental certifications, already deal with many of the ESG indicators in their day by day, but that the Governance part comes as a good news, as the company’s culture has to be molded to the company strategy. Another important point highlighted is that the ESG strategy must focus on prioritizing goals based on projects that support them, and that a very large number of goals should not be established, which try to “embrace the world”, as there is a risk of not being able to put in sufficient effort so that all of them can be fulfilled.
Concerns were also noted in the discussions that ESG practices actually reflect the company’s reality, and that they do not just represent a trend. In addition, sustainable practices cannot be considered as a cost, but as an investment, as it is a matter of survival and that can provide an improvement in the quality of life for people throughout the chain of relationships.
During the discussions, the importance of evaluating the chain of relationships that involves the structure of the companies was pointed out: employees, own and third parties, but also the network of relationships with all stakeholders. Another point addressed is that today we live in a new institutional reality, more complex, more digital and connected, in which the top management of companies must give people freedom of voice. It is necessary to establish communication channels so that it is possible to hear criticisms, suggestions and questions that may contribute to improvement actions.
It is essential to consider that leaders must play a role of inspiring the people they work with, since the ESG strategy must be permeated by the entire structure of the company, in all instances and hierarchical levels.
Panel 2. Risks to forest competitiveness
The first point addressed in this panel that directly impacts competitiveness was forest productivity. This index, after large increases observed in recent decades, is currently at a level of stagnation. The main causes are attributed to factors such as: adaptation of genetic materials to edaphoclimatic conditions due to a low diversity of available genetic materials; water availability in regions of the new expansion frontiers and also due to changes in rainfall patterns and consequent increases in dry periods; occurrences of pests and diseases; winds and forest fires.
The companies’ research programs and those developed in partnership with academia could help to face this new reality. In addition, the importance of paying attention to the human factor involved in forest management was highlighted, that is, the need to invest in training and qualification for the formation of professionals with a more technical profile and aimed at carrying out practical activities – even because expectations with Forest 4.0 concepts will require more qualified professionals to handle tools, equipment and techniques with a high degree of complexity.
Another issue were the challenges over land disputes with agricultural crops with shorter cycles, as well as business and contract models that, at first sight, could be more attractive due to greater immediacy in the anticipation of revenues. As a plus point, longer cycles of forestry activity can help to dilute the risks of climate change effects, which could significantly harm the yield of an annual crop subjected to a one-off extreme event.
Specifically with regard to the solid wood sector, the concerns raised refer to the lack of expectation of certain models of partnerships and leases, in addition to changes in the profile of planted pine forests. Increasingly, this culture is being conducted for the production of process wood and not for forest diversification based on multiple uses, which could have a very strong impact on the chain of industries based on solid wood.
Panel 3. Digital Transformation, Innovation and Technologies
Digital transformation, data processing and the use of technology enable the anticipation of field results and help in decision making at a more opportune, more assertive time, enabling process corrections before large accumulations of errors occur in field operations.
However, the panel consensus was that technological processes must be developed with the effective participation of future users. They must participate in the construction of tools and solutions, otherwise they run the risk of not being feasible for practical application.
In the context of forestry activity, the interface of end users with the Information Technology area is of great importance, since it will be the forestry operator, regardless of the specific area in which it operates, be it forestry or harvesting, who will actually be able to use the technologies developed for process improvements. And, even though they have no knowledge of the technology development processes, it will be these people who will be able to help create performance indicators, and thereby bring together the theoretical and practical development concepts.
However, attention should be paid to the fact that the use of technology helps a lot in the process as a whole, but that it does not replace the need for practical experience and field observation, which depend on the sensitivity developed in the execution of the activities of the day in the forest.
Panel 4. The professional of the future: what will labor relations look like for the coming years?
Leaders must increasingly play the role of manager-educator, working with protagonism to help transmit knowledge to all links in the chain. It is necessary to create a learning environment, involving not only the company, but the workers’ families and society as a whole.
Investing in the professional of the future also means investing in the professionals of the present, so that they feel responsible for each part of the process and that they can engage to help in the search for solutions. Among the main points addressed in this panel, it was highlighted that it is essential to develop professionals who are able to bring short and medium-term solutions.
A question was asked about how professionals can act so as not to become irrelevant in the future, considering the interaction with new technologies, such as biotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, among others. The answer considered the fact that such technologies depend entirely on good professionals, who are trained, updated, motivated and engaged and who will always be responsible for feeding the data entries of the systems with quality information. If that doesn’t happen, the systems alone will never be able to provide an output that is coherent with the reality of the production processes, and that can generate more control and quality information.
A phrase said, which should be highlighted and responds to such questioning is the following: “There is no loss of knowledge, but transformation of knowledge. Staying relevant means staying up to date.”