Over 50% of South America's forests and woodlands are in Brazil, with an estimated 412 million ha (1,018 million acres). Sylvan areas in Brazil are nearly three-quarters as large as the forests of all African nations combined. Brazil's forests cover 49% of the country's land area and are among the richest in the world, yielding timber, oil-bearing fruits, gums, resins, waxes, essential oils, cellulose, fibers, nuts, maté, and other products. In the rainforest, as many as 3,000 different species per sq mi (2.6 sq km) may coexist. However, only a limited percentage of forestland is being exploited, in part because of a lack of adequate transportation. Brazil accounts for 20% of the world's tropical hardwood resources and is one of the leading producers of tropical hardwood products. Brazilian timber is of fine quality, ranging from wood as light as cork to the wood of the Brazilian pepper tree, with a density one and one-half times that of water. By 1991, rapid deforestation during the previous 30 years in the Amazon (from migration, road building, mining, and tax incentives) had caused the rainforest to shrink by an estimated8.5% since colonial times. However, the annual rate of deforestation in the 1990s was 0.4%. The hardwood trees of the Amazon rain forest are of excellent quality, but because of a thriving domestic furniture industry, they are used mainly locally; furniture manufacturing is responsible for 40% of the wood consumption in Brazil. The Paraná pine (Araucaria angustifolia) is in greatest demand. It grows in the southern states in stands that comprise about 420 million trees. A Brazilian ban on log exports has focused exports on value-added products (mostly lumber, plywood, hardboard, and veneers). Policies to develop forest resources have changed recently, and the utilization of native species has become very restricted, mainly in the southern region.
Production of roundwood in 2000 was estimated at 235.4 million cu m (8.3 billion cu ft); sawn wood production was 18.1 million cu m (639 million cu ft) in 2000. Production of paper and woodpulp has expanded considerably since 1975; exports of paper intensified between 1981 and 2000, from 337,000 tons to 1,815,000 tons. The total value of Brazilian forest product exports in 2000 reached $3.22 billion. The Amazon region accounted for 40% of the total Brazilian exports of wood products, while the rest of Brazil accounted for 60% (of which Paraná represented 20%). Exports in 2000 (by their total value) included: wood pulp, $1,601 million; sawn wood, $519 million; plywood, $374 million; fiberboard, $58 million; and veneer, $26 million.
Brazil's production of rubber in 1999 was 55,000 tons; the natural rubber industry, once a world leader, was dealt a strong blow by the development of cheaper synthetics. Forest products like rubber, Brazil nuts, cashews, waxes, and fibers now come from plantations and no longer from wild forest trees as in earlier days.