SME of the year: Agrocortex Florestas do Brasil

Agrocortex Florestas do Brasil won small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) of the year for its work in tackling illegal deforestation.

The FSC-certified forest manager has been recognised for developing a REDD Project to sustainably harvest and process wood in the Amazon Rainforest.

Agrocortex said its Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified sustainable forest management plan is a tool for the preservation of the forest and reduction of illegal deforestation in the Amazon rainforest region.

As one of the largest employers in the State of Acre, the REDD project has helped conserve about over 186,000 hectares of the Amazon biome. It also claims to help the local economy of the Manoel Urbano municipality and protect at least 24 species of fauna considered 'Threatened' or 'Vulnerable' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), as well as another 20 species considered 'Rare'.

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) is a UN scheme to provide a financial value for carbon stored in forests by offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. REDD has received criticism in recent years for its methodology allowing too much flexibility regarding baselines and for a lack of community involvement in certain projects.

Commenting on REDD, CEO Marcos Preto CEO said: "I think the criticism REDD receives has more to do with who uses this mechanism or how it is used, than REDD itself.... What could and should improve are the people behind REDD – always – especially now that we are seeing a true 'green gold rush' that may not be very sustainable in the medium- and long-term."