A project in Brazil’s highly endangered coastal Atlantic Forest has become the first reforestation project in the country to be validated to the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards (CCBS) as a carbon project. The Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards are considered the most important and widely used international standards for third-party validation of multiple-benefit carbon sequestration projects, and validation to those standards is an indication that the project is designed to mitigate climate change, support sustainable development, and conserve biodiversity at the same time.
The goal of the project is to reforest a 37-mile stretch between Brazil’s Monte Pascoal and Pau Brasil National Parks to form a 2,400-acre ecological corridor between the protected areas. Both national parks lie within the Brazilian state of Bahia, in the middle of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest — a tropical forest internationally recognized as one of the world’s most highly endangered biodiversity hotspots.
Just 12% of the Atlantic Forest remains.
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.
“All the activities for the group project were assessed, but only the initial 28 acres have been validated by the Rainforest Alliance to CCB standards. However, under the project concept, new areas can be added to achieve the 2,400 acres of restoration planned for this first project,” explained Tiepolo. The Monte Pascoal-Pau Brazil Ecological Corridor reforestation project is a joint effort between The Nature Conservancy, Instito 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 project facilitated by The Nature Conservancy to be validated to the CCBS. The first was the Tengchong project, in China.
Connecting two significant fragments of nationally protected Atlantic Forest, the corridor will restore forests within the Caraíva River Basin and a small area around the Frades River — a severely deforested vacuum between the two parks. The corridor will provide a protected route for vulnerable Atlantic Forest species, including vulnerable pumas, brown howler monkeys, and endangered white-winged cotingas.
Development of a major road infrastructure and the uncontrolled growth of the timber industry in the region intensified environmental degradation in the 1960s and 1970s, and today only a few small fragments of Atlantic Forest can be found in the area. The first property reforested within the scope of this project, Monte Pascoal Farm, owned by Olival José Covre, is located in the rural zone of the municipality of Itabela, Bahia. A total of 42 acres of degraded areas on his property have already been restored through the planting of native tree species and the implementation of assisted natural regeneration techniques.
Local residents, landowners and the organizations involved believe the proposed project’s activities will benefit the affected communities by creating jobs, generating income, and building local knowledge and capacity to conserve and restore forests; as well as the environment by restoring and conserving biodiversity and protecting watersheds. Through the project, local landowners will allow portions of their lands to be restored, and the local tree-planting cooperative, Cooplantar, will carry out the restoration activities, including planting and maintenance. Because Brazil’s environmental laws require landowners to maintain a percentage of their lands in natural vegetation, the restoration work done by Cooplantar helps landowners with too much deforested land come into compliance with this national Forest Code — without requiring that they finance the restoration or do it themselves. New work opportunities will be created by the project for local community members. These opportunities will include reforestation activities (seed collection, seedling production, planting, maintenance) conducted through the local cooperative Cooplantar, and monitoring activities (carbon capture, biodiversity, community). All socio-economic monitoring activities will be conducted by members of local community associations.
The project started in 2008, when the first contract for reforestation was signed to restore 42 acres. This first phase was sponsored by Kraft Company, and directly created 12 jobs. The project has now received support from Brazilian companies Natura and Coelba.
The Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) created the CCB standards. The CCBA is a partnership between leading international NGOs working in collaboration with companies and research institutes seeking to promote integrated solutions to land management that deliver multiple climate, community, and biodiversity benefits around the world. The CCB standards “require that independent, accredited auditors determine conformance with the CCB Standards at two stages, validation and verification. A CCB validation is an assessment of the design of a land-based carbon project against each of the CCB Standards criteria. A CCB verification is an evaluation of a project’s delivery of net climate, community, and biodiversity benefits against the project’s validated design and monitoring plan. Verification must be performed at least every five years”. For more information, see www.climate-standards.org.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.