Veracel’s 25th year of operations in 2016 is a historical milestone for the company. We say this not only because of the date itself, or due to the sum of everything we have accomplished during this period, but because our presence in the south of Bahia State has been consolidated over time. We have learned a great deal over these 25 years in connection with relationships and dialog with the communities and the specific cultural aspects in our region, directly related to our way of doing business. From the point of view of operations, they represent the realization of a project that materialized in the form of a successful enterprise.
2016 was particularly challenging for Veracel. We encountered challenges in operations that led us to make adjustments in our processes. In order to return to the company’s good performance over recent years, we made decisions and rethought procedures.
We made important advances regarding dialog with society, mainly regarding our relationship with NGOs, in connection with projects of an environmental nature relevant to our biome. An example is connection by means of ecological corridors made viable through the Atlantic Forest Program (PMA).
Another highlight in this field was the review of the handling plan for the Private Reserve of Natural Heritage (RPPN) Estação Veracel, a cornerstone of the company’s environmental education project, opening up new prospects not only in connection with the environment, but also concerning the region’s economic development. The Birdwatching Project, which included Estação Veracel as a refuge area for birds, enables three important work dimensions in our territory: citizen science, sustainable tourism and environmental preservation. The traditional and well-established destination of “Sun and Beaches” has also become a reference for visitors committed to environmental matters, fostering engagement and bringing more resources into the region.
Also under the heading of social dialog, 2016 was a productive year for the communities with which we interact in the region, both from the point of view of dialog itself and structuring support for entrepreneurial investments. Initiatives aimed at young people in the region are milestones in this respect. The First Forum on Youth Social Protagonism in the South of Bahia State was the fulfillment of a task encouraging young people to consider and act to benefit their communities, in a constructive and consequent manner, valorizing and bolstering community associations existing in each community.
In connection with conflicts over land use, we kept up the rhythm of work and dialog we attained in 2015 with the six social movements involved in the agreement with the National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA) and Bahia State Government. We continued structuring the project for sustainable settlements, with the expertise of University of São Paulo’s Luiz de Queiroz College of Agricultural (ESALQ/USP), and we are still determined that settlements should enjoy access to public policies and that these families earn a living by means of agriculture.
We cannot omit mention of an important date for the Association of Eucalyptus Producers in the Deep South of Bahia State (ASPEX), which turned 10 in 2016. Our partnership with the producers in the Forest Producer Program (PPF), through ASPEX, strengthens a relationship of confidence created between Veracel and our wood suppliers. It is important to stress that forestry is a new activity in the region, which takes a long time to mature as compared to agricultural activities in general. Thus, it is vital to consolidate this relationship for the business’s success, and this is recognized by our partners.
With regard to governance, we must highlight that the Code of Conduct was handed over to suppliers, extending commitment to ethical conduct throughout the productive chain. Additionally, an 0800 channel was set up, enabling society to participate in the company’s governance process.
Another extremely relevant point for the company is the behavioral dimension, which has been the focus of safety at work, including this aspect as part of the culture of our business. The result: in 2016 we attained the best performance in Veracel’s history, with an accident frequency rate of 0.37. This poses the challenge of further improvement in 2017 and consolidates us as an accident-free environment where it is safe to work.
There are further challenges thrusting us forward in 2017 and the following years, such as cost control management, which is key for Veracel to continue as a highly competitive company in its market.
As a result of all this, we expect to create a virtuous cycle of regional development fostered by the maintenance and growth of the company. [G4-1]
Anderson Ângelo de Souza, Financial and Administrative Director
Ari da Silva Medeiros, Industrial Director
Moacyr Fantini, Forestry Director
Veracel Executive Committee
Otávio Pontes, Stora Enso representative
Wellington Giacomin, Fibria representative