Amazon rainforest
Photo: Pexels / Caesar Oleksy

Brazil is vulnerable to climate change due to its complex, biologically diverse ecosystems, especially the Brazilian Amazon, which covers an area that is roughly the size of Western Europe. The annual deforestation rate in Brazil’s Amazon plunged from nearly 11,000 square miles in 2004 to 1,700 square miles in 2012 – an 84 percent decline. Despite these challenges, the Government of Brazil has made commitments to restore and protect forest landscapes, and has demonstrated progress in on-the-ground restoration and supportive policy conditions.

The Bonn Challenge Barometer of Progress is an IUCN-led protocol that will complement restoration efforts at multiple scales and by a range of actors. Brazil is one of the seven countries that the Barometer will profile. The Barometer will profile leadership and quantifiable progress on FLR in support of the Bonn Challenge and equip pledgers and partners with information to accelerate action and address implementation bottlenecks. Some of the anticipated benefits and impacts from the project include:

  • Identifying and raising awareness of in-country restoration opportunities and needs for investors, the private sector, and other interested parties.
  • Raising awareness on the benefits of restoration and the important contribution restoration can make toward achieving developmental and environmental goals including the SDGs, Aichi Targets, Paris Agreement, Land Degradation Neutrality goal, and others.
  • Helping to advance science and best practices on restoration by providing a wealth of new information to researchers on restoration practices and results from around the world.

Bonn Challenge pledge and broader context

Brazil’s intended Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement of the UNFCCC includes a target of restoring and/or reforesting 12 million hectares of forests by 2030. Recognizing that FLR also has the potential to help Brazil fulfil many of its international commitments and achieve related national goals, notably those within the Brazilian NDC, Forest Code, Low Carbon Agriculture Program, and CBD Aichi Targets, Brazil pledged to restore 12 million hectares of deforested or degraded forest land by 2030 as part of its Bonn Challenge commitment. This commitment comprises just over half of the 21 million hectares (+/- 6 million hectares) identified as restoration targets under Brazil’s revised Forest Code of 2012.

The Brazilian government also plans to implement integrated crop, livestock and forestry initiatives on an additional 5 million hectares under the country’s low-carbon initiatives and restore 5 million hectares of pastureland. Along with the 12 million hectares under the Bonn Challenge, these pledges will be counted as part of the 20x20 Initiative, a regional platform to drive action on the Bonn Challenge led by the World Resources Institute (WRI). Combined, Brazil’s overall commitment to restoration totals 22 million hectares. 

Atlantic Forest Restoration Pact (PACTO)

The Pact for the Restoration of the Atlantic Forest (PACTO) has a goal of restoring 15 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2050 by aligning the efforts of its 260 members. PACTO is working towards planting 2 million native species in the Atlantic Forest, an initiative funded by ECOSIA, a German company.

The second version of PACTO's web-based monitoring system has represented a major progress in PACTO’s capacity to monitor advances toward meeting their Bonn Challenge pledge. PACTO secretariat encourages members to upload information onto the online database. The tool is already being used and will be of fundamental importance for tracking trends in forest landscape restoration in the Atlantic rainforest biome. PACTO requested the technical support to mainstream gender in PACTO Monitoring Protocol for Forest Restoration. As a result, two indicators were selected for inclusion in the Protocol – the number of women/men with jobs created by the implementation of restoration activities, and the percentage increase of income for women/men farmers (agroforestry, NTFP, timber)

Key progress made on restoration by PACTO partners includes:

  • The Copaíba Environmental Association has been working on restoration in 20 municipalities in the south of Minas Gerais and in the state of São Paulo for the last 16 years. To date, 460,000 seedlings have been planted in over 3,000,000 m². Importantly, the areas chosen for restoration are distributed around 210 tributaries of the Peixe and Camanducaia rivers.
  • Bioflora operates the largest nursery in São Paulo, with a production capacity of 4 million seedlings of 200 native species per year. In 2015, with funding from FAPESP through the Small Business Innovative Research programme, Bioflora has been creating and comparing restoration methodologies.
  • Fibria Celulose has a goal of restoring 40,000 hectares in protected areas in five states – Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Bahia, São Paulo and Mato Grosso do Sul – by 2025. Since 2015, the company has started planting native species, promoting natural regeneration and controlling the spread of invasive species in 19,000 hectares. The company is a signatory of PACTO and has the support of notable organizations, including the NGO The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which has signed a cooperation agreement to monitor Fibria Celulose’s restoration areas, based on the Pact Monitoring Protocol for PACTO.
  • Through its 2,500 projects spanning 20,000 hectares, SOS Mata Atlântica Foundation has planted 35 million seedlings.
  • Verdesa has planted more than half a million native trees in 320 hectares of seasonal forest in São Paulo since 1998. Several species of threatened animals including some species of migratory birds were recorded in the plantations, with the first record for the São Paulo state of Sambophila palustres. Regarding the water issue, the Power Purchase Agreements of direct taxpayers of the Tietê and Piracicaba Rivers, including the banks of the Barra Bonita reservoir, were restored.

Success Factor: National policy framework supportive of forest landscape restoration.

One of the first policy actions taken in support of FLR implementation subsequent to Brazil’s Bonn Challenge commitment was the establishment of the National Policy for the Recovery of Native Vegetation (known as PROVEG) through a federal decree in January 2017 (Federal Decree No. 8,972). PROVEG is focused on articulating, integrating and promoting policies, programs and action that encourage the recovery of forests and other forms of native vegetation, under the terms of Brazil’s Forest Code (Federal Law 12.651/2012).

PROVEG’s implementation mechanism is the National Plan for Native Vegetation Recovery (called PLANAVEG), which has been in place since 2014. PLANAVEG integrates eight different strategies that promote supportive policy conditions to scale up FLR as part of a coordinated governmental effort. These are, i) raising awareness on restoration benefits; ii) enhancing native species seed and seedling quality and quantity; iii) fostering markets related to restoration areas and activities; iv) streamlining public policies at different jurisdictions and governance levels; v) developing financial mechanism; vi) improve and expand technical assistance and rural extension; vii) spatial planning and monitoring; and viii) investing in research, development and innovation.

Success Factor: Financial Flows

Adequate economic estimates of costs of restoration notwithstanding, financial flows through a variety of channels (public, private, donor funded) in support of these restoration targets are important indicators of action towards realizing national commitments made under the BC and related national goals that it can facilitate.

A pioneering payment for ecosystem services programme in Brazil’s Espírito Santo state, called Reflorestar, uses landscape assessment tools to determine landowner compensation for conserving standing forests and initiating FLR on their land. The payment for ecosystem services (PES) programme also offers a mechanism for producers to provide the financing inputs needed for FLR activities, with the goal of expanding the Atlantic forest area in Espírito Santo by 80,000 hectares by 2018.

Success Factor: Technical Planning

In addition to this policy framework at the national level, several of Brazil’s states have seen progress in implementing policies and conducting state-level prioritization of FLR opportunities. Brazil has undertaken FLR planning through state-level assessments of restoration opportunities. The assessment of restoration opportunities and restoration planning informs PLANAVEG and Brazil’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) target for restoration and reforestation – as well as other national and sub-national policies. In addition to state level restoration assessments, MAPBiomass is a collaborative initiative involving several universities, NGOs and government agencies, to track land cover change including restoration using satellite imagery.

Additionally, a national coalition of concerned civil society, Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forest and Agriculture with over 160 members is mapping all restoration and reforestation initiatives that are on-going within the country.