Impact Report 2021

Tackle Climate Change

Tekakro Xikrin fishes in the Bacaja River, near the village of Pot-Kro, in the Brazilian Amazon.
TEKAKRO XIKRIN PESCA EN EL RÍO near the village of Pot-Kro, in the Brazilian Amazon. Indigenous territories hold more than 17% of the world's forest carbon. © Kevin Arnold

The Amazon Rainforest: The Lynchpin of Our Planet’s Healt

Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest

A host of superlatives  come to mind when talking about the Amazon. After all, the planet’s largest tropical rainforest is home to 1/3  of the world’s species, 1/4 of its fresh water, and its trees store 48 billion tons of carbon dioxide. The Amazon is Earth’s greatest life reserve and plays a crucial role in tackling the climate and biodiversity crises facing our planet. 

While the Amazon rainforest is one of the most important places on Earth, it is also one of the most threatened. Nearly the size of the continental United States, the Amazon spans nine countries, with 60% of it in Brazil. Twenty-one million people live in the Brazilian Amazon, including 200 Indigenous and traditional communities.

Brazil has already lost 20% of its rainforest to deforestation, making it one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases and global climate change. Yet people are looking for solutions, and the Brazilian state of Pará is taking a leading role in climate action. Home to 9% of the Amazon rainforest, Pará is also the state with the highest deforestation rate in the region.

Through its Amazon Now Program, Pará state seeks to create a low-carbon economy and ensure a sustainable future for people and nature in the Amazon. The plan aims to improve the health of the forest, increase the efficiency of production chains, and boost the well-being of people and conditions in rural areas.

TNC is helping to lay crucial groundwork to advance this vision. To make real headway in conserving the Amazon’s remaining rainforest, we must ensure that standing forests are worth more than forests cleared for pasture while significantly improving local people’s livelihoods. One promising approach is to strengthen markets for products sourced from native or sustainably restored forests and build up a bioeconomy that can guarantee the conservation of large areas in the Amazon through place-based economic opportunities for Indigenous Peoples, traditional communities, and smallholders.

Un agricultor
A farmer holds Brazilian nuts on his property in São Félix do Xingu, Brazilian Amazon. © João Ramid
Vista desde el Río Negro
View from the Rio Negro in the Brazilian Amazon. © Ben Duarte/TNC Photo Contest 2021
A farmer holds Brazilian nuts on his property in São Félix do Xingu, Brazilian Amazon. © João Ramid
View from the Rio Negro in the Brazilian Amazon. © Ben Duarte/TNC Photo Contest 2021

In 2021, TNC, the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), and the company Natura published a study to gauge the potential of multiple products to generate a forest bioeconomy in Pará. The study confirms that forest-based products such as açaí berries, cocoa, and Brazil nuts can help create a bioeconomy supporting regenerative practices that avoid biodiversity degradation. Such a model would also embrace pricing that rewards producers for biodiversity protection and carbon mitigation.

The study, which projects that the bioeconomy could double Pará’s GDP in 20 years, is being used by the state government to inform its state-level Bioeconomy Strategy.   

We need a range of options to show farmers that they can switch from a broad-based production approach and deforesting the land to an intensive, more profitable model.

Governor of the Brazilian State of Pará

Pioneering Reef Insurance is Put to the Test 

Healthy reefs protect vulnerable coastal communities from catastrophic hurricanes, support the thriving tourism economy and serve as habitat for fisheries and coral ecosystems. In partnership with governments and businesses, TNC has continued to activate its pioneering response protocol to the hurricanes that have hit Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula over the past two years. This protocol includes reef-restoring brigades and a reef insurance policy to cover repairs to the damage unleashed by extreme weather events. Reef brigades have successfully stabilized and reattached more than 40,000 fragments and colonies. The experience serves as proof of concept for other parts of the world where coral reefs, mangroves, dunes, and other coastal ecosystems play a vital role in protecting people and nature against the impacts of climate change.

 

protegen a las comunidades costeras de los huracanes catastróficos.
Healthy reefs protect coastal communities from catastrophic hurricanes. © Jennifer Adler

Resilient Central America 

October 2021  marked the successful completion of the five-year Resilient Central America (ResCA) initiative aimed at helping small farmers and artisanal fishers improve their livelihoods whilst strengthening climate resilience and food security through nature-based solutions. Led by TNC and funded by the U.S. Department of State, the ResCA program collaborated with governments to adopt climate-smart policies and strategies for the agricultural sectors in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and for fisheries in Belize. It also boosted sustainable production practices in key value chains, including corn, beans, sugarcane, dairy, coffee, lobster, and seaweed. Achievements include training 15,230 people in climate change adaptation and sustainability; working with almost 200 government institutions to promote sustainable practices; supporting the creation of 300 relevant policies and regulations, and facilitating the implementation of climate-smart practices on nearly 300,000 acres in the five participating countries. The initiative also saw a 15% increase in productivity in several of the production chains involved and a 6% increase in incomes for participating dairy farmers in two countries. 

 

osechan granos de café maduros en La Igualdad, Guatemala.
Selso Martin Chavez and Julia Martin harvest ripe coffee beans in La Igualdad, Guatemala © Melissa Ballarin & Daniel López Pérez

harvest ripe coffee beans in La Igualdad, Guatemala

A Restoration Plan Grows In Brazil 

Protecting and restoring forests  can increase water security, bolster rural economies, and mitigate climate change. A powerful example of how this can be done is taking place in the Mantiqueira Mountains, one of the most ecologically diverse and vulnerable areas of Brazil’s imperilled Atlantic Forest. The Conservador da Mantiqueira initiative is bringing together stakeholders from 425 municipalities located in Brazil’s biggest markets—the states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Minas Gerais that together make up 54% of Brazil’s GDP—to build a forest restoration network that seeks to reforest nearly 4 million acres by 2030—an area 10 times the size of the city of São Paulo. The initiative is based on recent successes in Extrema Municipality, where TNC and partners planted two million trees and pioneered the use of Payment for Ecosystem Services in Brazil to incentivize restoration.

Trabajadores del proyecto
Workers with the Conservador plant a variety of native species in a reforestation area in Extrema, Minas Gerais, Brazil. © Felipe Fittipaldi
Trabajadores del proyecto
Workers with the Conservador plant a variety of native species in a reforestation area in Extrema, Minas Gerais, Brazil. © Felipe Fittipaldi
Workers with the Conservador plant a variety of native species in a reforestation area in Extrema, Minas Gerais, Brazil. © Felipe Fittipaldi
Workers with the Conservador plant a variety of native species in a reforestation area in Extrema, Minas Gerais, Brazil. © Felipe Fittipaldi