Copyright 2002, Traffic World Magazine
An investment in logistics could help save the Amazon Rainforest. Aquatic Cellulose Internal Corp., based in Vernon, British Columbia, harvests submerged hardwood timber, and a revamped logistics network is part of the company's plan to restart operations in Brazil.
The company's business plan "will allow us to become the first profitable company in this industry," said spokesman Michael Lacy. Timber, even if it has been submerged for many years, is a commodity, he explained, and AQCI will be able to compete with conventional logging if it can streamline its operations.
Established in 1999, AQCI recovers standing old growth timber from a reservoir in Brazil. Water acts to preserve the wood, protecting it from the sun and insect pests. The precious hardwoods include Brazilian cherry and redwood. Lacy explained that the company uses a patented robotic machine to extract the timber, obviating the need to use divers, which is dangerous and expensive by comparison. "We are constructing the next-generation machine," Lacy said.
But ACQI has not been able to turn a profit for the last two quarters and has suspended operations in Brazil. It is now in the process of raising "several million dollars," he said, and hopes to start up again soon. In July the company hired public relations firm Equitilink LLC to raise investor awareness.
Lacy explained that after harvesting, the trees are converted to rough-cut timber, then transported by water using barges and tugs to a mill for processing into finished product. The product is shipped by ocean to markets in North America. The problem is that much of the transportation infrastructure is leased "and that is what has made it so expensive," he said. Part of the new plan is to "acquire the assets needed to be cost-efficient."
Also part of the plan is to exploit other inundated landscapes. The five-year plan has six projects, said Lacy, some outside Brazil. "We have gone to great lengths to evaluate the global market," he said. In addition to "competing on a price basis with the rest of the industry," ACQI is banking on consumer preference for a hardwood product that is environmentally friendly. "That's why consumers will want to switch," he said.