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Restoration of land and forests advances in Brazil

Restoration of land and forests advances in Brazil

Photo: WRI

The Brazilian calendar for restoration of land and forests has been very busy since December to the present, when the federal government officially adhered to the 20×20 Initiative, and consequently, to the Bonn Challenge. In January, the policy that created the National Policy for Recuperation of Native Vegetation (Proveg) was published and various organizations, among them WRI Brasil – launched the Alliance for Restoration of the Amazon to expand large-scale restoration in the world’s largest rainforest.

In an interview published on the blog of the Brazilian Climate, Forestry and Agriculture Coalition, the executive director of WRI Brasil, Rachel Biderman, highlighted the progress of the landscape and forest restoration agenda in the country and spoke about the continuity of work in 2017, the constructive dialogue with the federal government and the activities of the sector organizations. She also highlighted the importance of the Restoration and Reforestation Working Group (WG) of the Brazilian Coalition for Climate, Forests and Agriculture . Check out the main highlights of the interview:

COALITION – What progress has been made regarding the Coalition’s restoration agenda in the past year?

Rachel Biderman – We had some milestones. Among them, working with the Ministries of Agriculture and the Environment for Brazil’s adherence to the Bonn Challenge, an international effort to restore 150 million hectares of deforested or degraded areas by 2020 – and another 200 million hectares by 2030 -, and to the Initiative 20×20, which is aimed at recovering 20 million hectares of degraded areas in Latin America and the Caribbean. With these commitments, Brazil has declared its intention to restore 12 million hectares of forests and to implant 5 million hectares of crop-livestock-forest integration systems by 2030, as well as recover another 5 million hectares of degraded pastures by 2020. At the end of last year, we had a meeting with Minister of the Environment Sarney Filho and discussed the importance of the swift approval of a national restoration framework that was already under construction by the government. In less than a month, our request was met. Proveg was approved and signed as a decree by President (Michel) Temer in January. The Coalition had been working for four years on this front. It was very important to make it feasible with the support of the minister. The Forestry Code provides for the need to promote forest restoration, but there was no policy to do so. With Proveg, there is more consistency and tangibility in terms of the execution of the government’s declarations of will. Now it determines the creation of the National Plan for Recovery of Native Vegetation (Planaveg) in 180 days. The policy is a great guideline, and Planaveg will detail how to do the restoration. The Coalition and its members, such as WRI Brazil, are once again available to the government to help build detail via Planaveg, which is urgently needed to meet climate mitigation and adaptation goals, enabling a green economy and jobs in the field.

COALITION – Can you do a quick analysis of how the Coalition’s dialogues with the government went in relation to the restoration agenda?

Rachel Biderman – We work closely with the Ministries of Environment and Agriculture. Proof of that fact was in Cancún, during the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP 13) to the UN Biodiversity Convention, when the ministers announced the country’s adherence to the Bonn Challenge and the 20×20 Initiative. It was very productive. The personal engagement of ministers and their close advisers was fundamental for this. They have created channels for rapid dialogue.

COALITION – What should happen, in practice, with the adhesions of Brazil to the Bonn Challenge and the Initiative 20×20?

Rachel Biderman – It’s a statement of goodwill. The government tells the global society that we have this commitment, that we will make the restoration happen. It has no legal value, legally speaking, but a political value.

COALITION – How can the Coalition contribute to the making the goodwill expressed in adhering to these agreements fully realized?

Rachel Biderman – We will help Planaveg to be defined and to make it happen. We will show restoration models for ecological and economic ends. The TNC, IUCN and WRI, among others, have worked with models in the field, for ecological restoration or for economic purposes.In this last case, an example is the Verena Project.

COALITION – Restoration with economic purposes has been highly debated. In what regions is this more likely to work? Are biomes addressed with more emphasis?

Rachel Biderman – We are working precisely with biomes. The Brazilian experience is very focused on eucalyptus and pine, exotic species that meet a specific demand for wood and cellulose. But native species help in the diversification of products and in the biological diversity itself. Therefore, for the VERENA Project we are focusing more on native species, to offer the market alternatives to wood and other forest products not yet available, or not available on a large scale. We have analyzed several cases – such as in Pará, in the Bahia portion of the Atlantic Forest, among others – to show examples of forest plantations of native species that can be carried out on a large scale. Another point we are working on, thanks to the Coalition, is the syncing up restoration databases. We are mapping what information exists to implement the restoration, from nurseries, seeds, among others. This is one of the fronts of the Restoration Working Group (WG), and of the monitoring platform of critical factors to scale restoration.

COALITION – In 2016, the Restoration WG was divided into three pillars – R&D platform for silviculture and native species (within the VERENA Project), platform for monitoring critical factors for gaining scale and training of agents in the restoration chain. How are these fronts acting?

Rachel Biderman – On the R&D Platform, led by Alan Batista, of WRI Brasil, we are working with Embrapa, companies and universities to identify the main bottlenecks that need to be solved in order to scale up planting of native species in research and development. The critical factors monitoring platform is led by Aurélio Padovezi, also of WRI Brasil, who is talking with different actors to gather the necessary content in order to boost large-scale restoration in the country. Among other partnerships, we are working through the Pact for the Restoration of the Atlantic Forest. It is not the Coalition that is enabling this, but we are offering this to the movement so that it can benefit. Regarding training, the leader of this front is Marina Campos, of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which has advanced in several parts of Brazil. We try to simplify. We did a project of videos to be able to expand training and advance more on this point. TNC, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), universities and WRI Brasil are together in this video training platform. We are going to demonstrate planting techniques. It is really hands on. We want to reach out to producers, farmers, anyone who works in the fields.

COALITION – These projects are currently at what stage?

Rachel Biderman – The platform for monitoring critical factor is in the design phase. We have held meetings to map out what already exists. Instituto Escolhas has a platform. WRI Brasil has the VERENA Project. The Pact for the Restoration of the Atlantic Forest has others, as do some universities. We want to put everything together and disseminate information. But we are still in preliminary stages. The education and training part is also a project that is underway. We will produce videos for training rural producers on how to promote restoration for ecological and economic purposes, so that we can reach scale faster. We have academics and practitioners helping us with this. TNC is leading this component. As for the R&D platform, it is already happening. There is a scientific committee setting priorities and action plan.

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