To 325 million ha. of forest area in Canada and the 200 million in the United States are sometimes contrasted with the 400 million in Brazil; however this figure is considerably lower than that of the last official calculation extended to the whole territory of the confederation (1911), according to which the forest area would be about 500 million ha., corresponding to just under 60% of the area total. In 1920 the agricultural census was extended to just over a fifth of the total area, but only for less than a third of the area surveyed (55,558,710 ha), that is to say for about 6.5% of the entire confederation, there are precise data on the distribution of crops: of these 55 million and a half hectares, just over 6 and a half million are occupied by crops, while the forests cover about 49 million hectares. From which appears the immense forest wealth of Brazil. In the vast territory occupied by forests, three zones are usually distinguished, corresponding to the three different types of climatic adaptation, the northern or equatorial zone with the characteristicAmazonian hylaea, the central Atlantic area and the coastal ranges and the southern area with the araucaria forests and the internal plateau forests. Certainly the so varied and extensive forest is not a salient feature only in terms of the landscape, but also in terms of production. The advanced means of communication and the intensification of exports, due to a significant price increase on the main markets, have increased, in the last decades, both the production of dyeing and medicinal plants and that of wood for cabinetmaking and shipbuilding., hydraulic and railway. In the northern area, from the Amazon to the northern section of Bahia, the following plants have a density ranging between 1.3 and 1.08: the Muirapinima or tortoiseshell wood (Brosimum discolor: Moracea, with chocolate-colored wood with black veins), used in cabinet-making like “pink wood” or pink pao (Physxocalymna floridum: yellowish tint, with parallel pink lines); the Muirapiranga (Mimusops balata: a sapotaceae that provides a kind of gutta-percha) is a first-quality wood for shipbuilding, as well as the Massaranduba (Mimusops alata) that possesses the same qualities as the previous one and is one of the most beautiful trees and more exploited in the Amazon rainforest. Great lightness, on the other hand, is Pão Jangada (Apeiba tibourbou): a lime tree with a trunk with a diameter of 25-30 cm., which, while offering fibers for ropes, is used in the construction of the jangadas, fishing boats that carry out the coastal navigation between Ceará and the northern section of Bahia.
In the central area (from the northern section of Bahia to that of San Paolo and Minas Geraes) the following have a density ranging between 1.4 and 1.03: the Jacarandatan (Machaerium Allemani, a legume, which is responsible for one of the three main varieties of rosewood); the Pao Brasil (Caesalpinia echinata), legume reddish wood in the early colonial period was exported as a dyeing plant, but now serves only for plumbing work: the iron Pao (Swartia tomentosa, other legume which gives resistant material, as its name says,); the Brauna or Guarauna (Melanoxylon brauna): which offers excellent railway sleepers; the Sapucaia mirim (lower Lecytis): a myrtaceous tree with excellent building wood.
In the southern area (which includes the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catharina, Paraná, San Paolo, Goyaz and Matto Grosso), Urundeuva or Aroeira do Sertão (Miracrodon Urundeuva, a Terebintacea) has a density of 1.2 the Paraná Pine(Brazilian Araucaria) is very light, with a white-yellowish tint, edible pine cones, up to 45 meters high and growing between the 25th and 300th parallel, and especially in the state of Paraná where the araucaria forests cover an area estimated at 10 million ha.
According to Liuxers, the export of timber which in 1913 was 116,842 tons. for a value of 1732 contos it slightly increased after the war, reaching an annual average of 120,000 tons in the five-year period 1925-29. with an average value of 26,000 contos per year: the first place always goes to the Paraná pine which represents about 60% of the entire export.
The forest product par excellence is rubber, of which the most valuable qualities are provided by Hevea brasiliensis (see amazonas), Mangabeira and Maniçoba. Rubber or elastic rubber was for some years one of the main products of Brazilian export and the main factor in the economic progress of the states of Amazonas and Pará, but after 1910 Brazilian production was overwhelmed by that of Asian plantations and black gold Brazil lost its importance; now, however, with the intervention of the great North American car manufacturers, some regular hevea plantations that employ Japanese labor have begun in the Amazon.
Other important products are the mate, consisting of the leaves of Ilex paraguariensis, an ilicinacea that grows in southern Brazil and in Matto Grosso, and the Brazil nuts supplied by two blueberries that go by the name of “Brazilian chestnuts”: the Castanheiro do Pará (Bertlolletia excelsa) widespread in the Amazon region, and the Sapucaia (Lecythis ollaria) which extends from the Amazon region to the southern border of Minas Geraes.
Finally, it can be said that almost all the most widely used medicinal plants are represented in Brazil; from the various species of “quinas” of Rio de Janeiro, Goyaz, Matto Grosso and Marajó, to the various species of sarsaparilla, castor, rhubarb, to the wardrobe that produces the “Bahia powder”, also known as “Goa”; from the marapuana, similar to cola, to other various species of tonic plants, from the sensitive (Mimosa pudica) used as a revulsive, to various species of vomitive plants (such as the Uragoga ipecacuanha, so widespread in the Matto Grosso) and to the Copaifera officinalis which produces the balm of Copaive (v.).