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Climate Change: Where We Work

Confronting the Problem, Locally and Globally

These projects seek to restore and protect almost 50,000 acres of tropical forest within the Guaraqueçaba Environmental Protection Area in southeastern Brazil.

Over 40 years, these projects are expected to sequester and avoid the emission of significant amounts of carbon dioxide.

These projects are collaborative efforts between The Nature Conservancy, American Electric Power, General Motors, Texaco and Sociedade de Pesquisa em Vida Selvagem e Educação Ambiental (SPVS), the Conservancy's partner organization in Brazil.

Conservation Significance

The UN Economic and Social Organization (UNESCO) has recognized Brazil's Atlantic Forest as one of the highest priorities for conservation and has designated it a World Biosphere Reserve. More than half the forest's tree species and nearly three-quarters of its other plants are found nowhere else on Earth. The vast majority of Brazil's endangered species rely on the Atlantic Forest for their existence. Today, the Guaraqueçaba Environmental Protection Area is the largest contiguous remnant of Atlantic Forest and home to at least 15 species of globally endangered birds.

After centuries of human use, the Atlantic Forest has been reduced to only seven percent of its original range, and the remaining areas, including the project area, are under imminent threat of deforestation. An analysis of the Guaraqueçaba Environmental Protection Area identified Asian water buffalo ranching as the reserve's number-one threat. The project includes removing Asian water buffalo from areas that have been converted to pasture, restoring forests there and preventing further deforestation.

By protecting a significant area within the Guaraqueçaba Environmental Protection Area, this project will make an invaluable contribution to the preservation of the planet's biodiversity.

Net Carbon Benefits

Preliminary estimates indicate that the total carbon benefit for the projects will be significant, generated through a series of activities:

  • Reforestation and forest regeneration. Projects include the purchase of almost 50,000 acres of land within the Guaraqueçaba region. Deforested and degraded areas within the acquired lands will be reforested with native species.
  • Protection and sustainable management of existing forests. Activities in protection and improved forest management will be carried out throughout the project areas.
Other Benefits

Sustainable development is a primary goal of the project. With nearly a decade of experience and a respected track record working with local communities in the area, SPVS is taking the lead in efforts to help local residents balance their economic activities with improved forest management. Sustainable development activities may include ecotourism, organic agriculture, ornamental and medicinal plant production and craft production for the burgeoning tourism trade.

Other direct economic opportunities for local community members include jobs as park wardens and in reforestation efforts, carbon monitoring and infrastructure development.

A Model Project

The Guaraqueçaba Climate Action Project is one of several being undertaken by The Nature Conservancy and its partners to help protect and restore threatened forests and create a demonstrable reduction in the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

  • Duration. The Project's carbon benefits are expected to last in perpetuity through the mitigation of risks to the project site and the establishment of a permanent endowment fund to ensure management of the site.
  • Additionality. Based on land-use trends and readily observable land-use practices, the threat of expanded Asian water buffalo ranching and other agricultural practices persisting in the Guaraqueçaba area is clear and imminent. Ranchers have bought forested areas from other ranchers and cleared the land for pasture. Although land use in the area is regulated under Brazilian law, these regulations are often not enforced because of limited resources. This project intervention is clearly additional to what would have otherwise occurred since it provides needed resources for restoration, conservation and sustainable economic development.
  • Leakage. Initial analysis suggests that the potential for leakage of carbon benefits generated by the project is quite low. Nonetheless, the project includes a rigorous control component to help ranchers who wish to remain on their land raise water buffalo in a more environmentally compatible manner.

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