Why We Need the Atlantic Forest
Learn more about efforts to conserve Brazil's Atlantic Forest.
A restoration project in one of the world’s most threatened forests is proving that conservation is not only good for biodiversity, but can also lower greenhouse gas emissions and bring economic benefits to local communities.
The Monte Pascoal-Pau Brazil Ecological Corridor reforestation project, which will eventually span more than 2,400 acres within Brazil’s endangered Atlantic Forest, this month became the first forest restoration project in the country to earn validation to the prestigious Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards. The Rainforest Alliance, an independent, third-party auditor, has approved the project’s validation at the gold level for exceptional community and biodiversity benefits.
The Standards of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (or CCB, of which The Nature Conservancy is a member) are among the most respected in the world for land-base carbon projects, not only ensuring true and accurate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, but also challenging project proponents to ensure that their activities benefit both people and nature.
The project will involve planting and restoring thousands of trees within Brazil’s Caraíva River Basin and along the Frades River.
The reforested area will also create a 37-mile migratory corridor between Brazil’s Monte Pascoal and Pau Brazil National Parks, expanding critical habitat for numerous threatened species including the southern brown howling monkey and such birds as the banded cotinga and the hook-billed hermit. The area is also home to one of the last remaining populations of the Pau-Brasil tree – the tree that gave the country its name.
The project has begun with its first 28 acres validated to the CCB Standards, and is projected to remove 12 tons of carbon dioxide per 2.4 acres, per year. If the project reaches its full 2,400-acre goal, it could remove up to 360,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over its 30-year lifespan according to Gilberto Tiepolo, Forest Carbon Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy in the Atlantic Forest and Central Savannas. That’s roughly the equivalent of taking 65,000 cars off the road.
With more than 1,000 species of birds, 130 species of mammals, and more than 8 percent of the world’s plant species, Brazil’s Atlantic Forest is one of the most biologically diverse— yet most threatened—forests on Earth. Once stretching across an area twice the size of Texas, only 12 percent remains today, the result of centuries of uncontrolled agriculture, logging and development.
Of the remaining fragments of the Atlantic Forest, 80 percent lie on private property. The Monte Pascoal-Pau Brazil Ecological Corridor reforestation project is providing an innovative model for partnering with landowners to protect forests and fight climate change.
Under current Brazilian law, private landowners must keep a portion of their properties covered in native forests. The project is helping landowners comply with the law by reforesting their lands with native tree species and assisting them in conserving remaining forests.
Along with helping landowners come into compliance with Brazilian law, the project is also creating local jobs through tree planting, seed collection, forest conservation and monitoring of carbon reductions. The project will also improve the quantity and quality of water in the Caraíva River and Frades River watersheds that provide drinking water to local communities.
And the reforestation activities are helping local communities build critical skills and knowledge about soil use, land management and conservation that will help protect their lands and natural resources for years to come.
The project was first launched in 2008 with funding from the Kraft Company to reforest 42 acres on a private family farm. The Brazilian companies Natura and Coelba are now providing further funding to reforest the additional 2,400 acres.
The project is a joint effort between The Nature Conservancy, Instituto BioAtlântica, Conservation International, the Associação Comunitária Beneficente de Nova Caraíva, and Cooplantar (Cooperativa de Reflorestadores de Mata Atlântica do Extremo Sul da Bahia).
It is the second Nature Conservancy project to be validated to the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards. The first Conservancy project to be validated was the Tengchong reforestation project in China.