Rainforests once covered more than 80 percent of Sao Paulo. Today, only 13 percent of the state is forested, and less than seven percent of the Atlantic Rainforest, a vital but more-neglected neighbor of the better known Amazon, remains. Responding to this urgent situation, this commitment - a five-year, $13,500,000 reforestation project - calls attention to the detrimental effects deforestation has had on the local environment, wildlife, and communities in the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The Brazilian Rainforest Water Program focuses on mitigating the degradation of Brazilian riparian forests, monitoring water quality and improving biodiversity in these fragile ecosystems. The program methodology was conceived to be replicated in other regions where deforestation of riparian forests is an issue. The program strategy incorporates the creation of carbon offsets for inclusion in the carbon trading system, as defined in the Kyoto Protocol. As such, this strategy offers the possibility of additional financial resources to sustain and grow the Program in the long run. The Coca-Cola Brazil Institute's commitment features the reforestation of 3,000 hectares through 2014. The program has being implemented in Brazil's Atlantic Rainforest at the Japi Mountain Corridor region, along three different rivers running through four main municipalities with approximately 850,000 people. The areas of reforestation have being identified as eligible within the remit of Kyoto Protocol LULUCF criteria. In 2010, the program will be launched at Rio de Janeiro State, in the municipality of Rio Claro in the Guandú River watershed, and it will compensate rural landowners for forest restoration and land management efforts that protect freshwater resources. The rivers of the Guandú watershed provide about 80 percent of the fresh water and generate 25 percent of the electricity used by residents of the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area, benefiting almost eight million people. Through nursery operations, the project will also create local jobs, strengthen local capacity for reforestation services, and provide an additional revenue base of environmental services to support ongoing, sustainable operations.
Outcomes of reforestation include reduced river bank erosion and waterway sedimentation, which will improve water flow and habitats. In addition, the project will connect pockets of forests to create wildlife migratory corridors, strengthening habitat protection. Reforested areas will also act as carbon sinks, mitigating the effects of global warming. Carbon offset credits produced by the project will be used to fund its expansion, most likely through monetization via the international carbon markets. Through nursery operations, the project will also create local jobs, strengthen local capacity for reforestation services, and provide an additional revenue base of environmental services to support ongoing, sustainable operations.
Specific areas of focus of the commitment include:
- Watershed Improvement - Agricultural land bordering waterways is often highly degraded, leading to riverbank erosion and sedimentation of water sources. This project will reforest riparian buffer zones that include the Brazilian government-mandated Areas of Permanent Protection (APPs), which extend 30 to 100 meters from the high water mark of water bodies. While APPs are legally protected from development, reforestation is not required. By engaging private landowners and providing incentives, the Rainforest Waters Program will help restore these areas to their full ecological potential.
- Habitat Protection - Because the Atlantic Rainforest contains a large number of highly endangered species, it has been designated a World Biosphere Reserve. An additional project goal is to create wildlife corridors in the Japi and Matiqueira Mountain Corridor by connecting forest fragments and reforested riparian zones. The corridors will support biological exchanges and reduce endogamy and species endangerment.
- Socio-Economic Capacity Building - The project will strengthen local capacity for environmental services, including watershed monitoring, reforestation, and CO2 reduction efforts. Because the project will require six million seedlings, large-scale commercial nurseries will be established, creating local jobs and building reforestation skills. The project will also buy seedlings from community nurseries. SOS Mata Atlantica, a Brazilian NGO, will establish community partnerships that focus on local capacity-building.
- Carbon Sequestration - Over the 30-year CDM crediting period of this project, the estimated CO2 removal will be approximately three million tons. Instituto Coca-Cola Brasil will probably make the accumulated carbon credits available on the global market to provide funding for possible future expansion of this project. The Heinz Center will support the carbon accounting needs for the project.
The deforestation of Brazil has changed the land cover and altered the hydrologic cycle. Considering its size and role in distributing freshwater throughout the ecosystem, the hydrological cycle of Brazil's forests is critical to global climate patterns. Also, it is estimated 25 percent of the world's carbon emissions come from deforestation, and 7 percent from Brazil alone. This project has the potential of influencing a deficit of 1.7 million hectares in the State of Sao Paulo alone, becoming an example to be replicated as a model applicable to a variety of similar situations in the region.