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Protecting the unprotected: The Brazilian Amazon Grouped Forestry Project

In Seringal Porongaba, a remote community in the state of Acre in Brazil, change is occurring. Previously an isolated community with limited connectivity and access to technology and infrastructure, it has recently welcomed a new communications tower for internet, solar energy kits for residences, infrastructure improvements, training opportunities, health clinics and renovations to the local school.

Communications Tower in Porongaba, Acre
Copaiba collection
Saguinus wedelli (Weddell’s saddle-back Tamarin)

Behind these developments in this and a handful of other communities, is an experienced, mission-led local project developer called brCarbon. Its vision is to turn standing forests into an attractive economic prospect for landowners across the Legal Amazon and accelerate sustainable development for some of the most remote communities on earth.

Since 2022, Vertree and brCarbon have formed a strategic alliance in order to scale this vision and realise positive social and environmental impact across the Amazon, with the recent focus of the partnership being the VCS registered Brazilian Amazon Grouped Forestry Project.

The project is an Avoided Planned Deforestation (APD) REDD+ project, which means it is founded on a simple and robust baseline. Taking as its basis the Forest Code, Brazilian legislation which is in place to protect private forested land across Brazil, the project has focused its mission on the proportion of lands that fall beyond these regulatory protections.

Under the Forest Code, landowners located in the Amazon biome must protect 80% of their forested land. This falls to 35% if they live in Cerrado land and 20% in the Atlantic forest. Across Brazil this “forest surplus” represents around 100 million hectares of forests legally eligible for clearing¹ . This project, focused on the Amazon, is leveraging carbon finance to give these vulnerable forests a monetary value and provide landowners with an alternative option to the enticing economic prospects of deforestation.

To date, after rigorous due diligence processes on land titles, carbon stocks and licences of deforestation, the project has successfully engaged with 15 separate properties in Amazon States and protects over 30,000 hectares of biodiverse rainforest within the Amazon biome (additional to legal requirements). Finance from the sale of carbon credits compensates landowners, who have relinquished previously obtained or pending permits to convert the land, and provides funding to local communities living on or near the land to ensure that everyone connected to it sees the benefit of the finance.

Photovoltaic panels installed at a residence in Porongaba

Results achieved to date:

  • 13 internet towers installed in remote communities in the Amazon

  • 36 solar panels and battery kits delivered and installed

  • 70 km of optic fibre installed, connecting remote schools and communities to the world

  • 50 families benefited from the project activities, including through training activities and health support for remote communities

The project can be an excellent tool to promote a transition to an economy in which the forest is the main asset… If we can achieve this, we will be able to ensure the survival not only for us but for future generations.
Bruno Matta CEO brCarbon

Vertree and brCarbon are aiming to scale the project to 10 million tonnes of carbon avoidance over the next 10 years, ensuring their long-term partnership mobilises finance to forest conservation and sustainable development in the Amazon. 

The project taps into a huge opportunity to preserve large tracts of biodiverse forest, legally regarded as “surplus”, with a clear baseline from which to measure project success. It is our intention to see it scale and realise the potential for large environmental and social impact across the Legal Amazon.
Rodrigo Bezerra Vertree’s Head of Upstream Project Development
Ateles chamek (Spider Monkey) in the forest surrounding Porongaba

The project regularly monitors forest cover and studies the biodiversity within the project areas with the latest LiDAR technology (which brings more accuracy and transparency to carbon measurement), digital monitoring platforms and automated alert systems based on satellite images, as well as field visits and camera traps. All this is continually improving our understanding of these unique ecosystems and how best to protect them. Through the fauna monitoring, 794 animal species were monitored in the last two years – 334 of them are endemic, and 34 are threatened species.

But the communities who inhabit these areas are at the heart of the work undertaken on the ground. The investments made into these communities are now having a tangible impact on people’s lives, in ways which many would take for granted: the ability to communicate instantly with relatives and get news on family well-being; access to a wealth of information for learning, research and training via the internet; access to health care and vaccinations without a three-day round trip; a cold beer from a freezer…!

Antonia Graciele Vicente Rodrigues with her students

Even in these most remote Amazon regions there is a growing awareness of the significance of the forest, of nature and the consequences of deforestation. The hope of Porongaba’s local schoolteacher, Antonia Graciele Vicente Rodrigues, is that through the project, awareness continues to be raised on the importance of protecting the forest and what it really means if we were to lose it. This remains a central objective of this project and the alliance between Vertree and brCarbon, because as Antonia puts it, “the forest is life”.  

If you are interested in supporting this project, please get in contact.

¹ https://www.researchgate.net/publication/310599766_Cracking_Brazil’s_Forest_Code

© Photography by Enric Català Contreras

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