ABF Closes 2,000 Hectares Reforestation Deal in the Amazon

This is the first project in Rondônia for the Amazon Biodiversity Fund

November,  2022  —  Unlocking private finance for Amazon conservation enterprises is critical to stopping and reversing deforestation in the Amazon region. The objectives of the Amazon Biodiversity Fund (ABF) are to conserve biodiversity, address deforestation and climate risks, and create positive socio-economic and well-being outcomes for local communities in the Legal Amazon.

ABF  signed an innovative agreement with  Centro de Estudos Rioterra and  Reforest'Action for the first project in the environmental services portfolio. The investment will pay for the reforestation of  2,000  hectares of permanent protection areas ( APPs)  on small rural properties in the Amazon.  This will encourage producers to keep the forest standing, improve local ecosystems, and enhance smallholder livelihoods. 

“For us,  it will be a  milestone:  a  pilot project that could be later replicated in other areas in the  Amazon and across  Brazil,”  says  Rosana  Della  Mea,  investment manager and  ESG  analyst at  Impact  Earth,  the new organization behind the ABF. They dedicate 100% to impact investing, and innovation at scale. 

Impact Earth team designed ABF  jointly with  USAID/Brazil and the  Alliance of  Biodiversity  International-CIAT. CIAT  provided the anchor capital. It was created to overcome financial challenges faced by businesses, start-ups, and projects in the Amazon, offering long-term impact investing to finance sustainable enterprises. 

Earlier this year,  ABF  received further support from the ASN Biodiversity Fund,  managed by ASN Impact  Investors, as well as other investors. 

So far,  ABF  has also invested in:  Manioca,   a  food brand that sources sustainably produced raw materials from smallholders, promotes  Amazonian products  and attracted the attention of internationally recognized chefs,  such as  Alex  Atala and  Helena  Rizzo;  Horta da  Terra,  a  company that grows unconventional food plants from the Amazon,  such as taioba and jambu,  and sells them in the form of dehydrated  powder; Inocas Amazônia,   uses agroforestry systems to grow  Macaúba,  a  native fruit used as an  alternative to palm oil, and other crops on small and medium sized land holdings;  and Amazônia Agroflorestal, engages rural producers in the recovery of degraded areas transforming them into fair trade, high yield coffee agroforestry systems, building on the Café Apuí project, and conserves remaining forest through a REDD+ conservation programme. 

New Investment  Target —  The project developed with  Centro de  Estudos Rioterra and Reforest'Action promote reforestation in areas degraded  by  pastures  in  the  Lower  Rio  Jamari basin,  located  in  the  state  of  Rondônia.  The  initial  plan  is  to  recover  75  percent  of  the  area  with  direct planting  and  25  percent  with  applied nucleation,  an  innovative  method   that connects and  generates a new habitat  for  native  species. This method has never been implemented on a large scale in Brazil.

Restoration  activities will take place in 2024 and will  be  implemented  on family farms by  Centro de  Estudos  Rioterra. Only native species will be used. 

“The  project  has  a  huge  potential  for  replication  and  scale  gains  for  several  biomes,  as  well  as  for  social  impact. This  is  a  model  that  can  be  adapted to  different  realities  and  can  shed  light  on  the  issue  of  environmental regularization of rural  properties  in  the  Amazon,”  says  Alexis  Bastos,  project coordinator at  Centro de Estudos Rioterra. 

Selected producers will  receive an  initial investment  to  carry  out  restoration activities,  followed by  payments  per  hectare  conserved for  30  years.  “We  are  very  excited  about  this project,  the  first  of its kind,”  adds Rosana. 

Reforesterra - Restauraçao de Ecossistemas Florestais, a new Brazilian company created by Reforest’Action and directed by Reforest’Action, ABF and Rioterra, will pilot the project. Reforesterra is also in charge of the VCS and CCB certification and will generate carbon credit with high levels of climate and social impact, issued for forest restoration. 

“Reforesterra will use Reforest’Action methodologies for climate, environmental and social impact assessment”, says Pierre Gaches, COO of Reforest’Action and President of Reforesterra - Restauraçao de Ecossistemas Florestais Ltda. board.

Monitoring — The fund also has a monitoring program, in which an innovative methodology is being used to calculate the environmental impact associated with the implementation of sustainable practices. 

TerraBio, as it is known, adopts a monitoring, evaluation, and analysis approach to generate evidence on environmental impacts. It supports businesses that commercialize forest and sustainable agriculture products and invest in sustainable business models. 

Furthermore, TerraBio integrates cutting-edge sensing technologies with innovative techniques for collecting biodiversity data through eDNA technology. Satellite data are collected through a partnership with the SERVIR-Amazônia program and the Spatial Informatics Groups (SIG), which also support TerraBio's data analysis. 

In order to carry out eDNA analysis, it is necessary to collect soil samples from selected areas, and send them to specialist labs for analysis. Two ABF-funded projects have already collected material — Amazônia Agroflorestal, in September, and Horta da Terra, earlier this year (more information here)

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