Reversing deforestation in Apuí
The Amazon biome is one of the world’s most biodiverse areas, and is responsible for regulating the rainfall in many regions of South America. Apuí, in the southeast of Brazil’s Amazonas State, has become one of its most deforested municipalities. Low income from inefficient cattle ranching combined with a lack of compliance with the Forestry Code has led to a vicious cycle of land expansion and degradation.
WeForest and IDESAM’s co-operation is focused on delivering sustainable and profitable agroforestry and cattle farming that will recover degraded land and avoid further deforestation. The first phase of the project will establish 175 hectares of regenerative organic coffee agroforestry with native trees. Our long term goal is to restore 3200 ha of degraded pasture through regenerative agriculture and avoid the deforestation of around 1800 ha.
Instituto de Conservação e Desenvolvimento Sustentável da Amazônia (IDESAM)
- Demonstrate the success and profitability of organic coffee in degraded pasture and scale up market linkages for farmers.
- Restore degraded pasture and increase farmer incomes through improved rotational grazing and silvopastoral techniques
- Restore native vegetation and forests on degraded farmlands.
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Why is intervention needed?
It is estimated that 20% of the Amazon has already been lost. If the current rate of deforestation continues, it is estimated that over one quarter of the Amazon biome will be without any trees by 2030 – an irreversible ecological disaster.
Cattle ranching is responsible for 80% of the deforestation throughout the Amazon forest and the release of 340 million tCO2 annually – 3.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2019 and again in 2020, parts of the Amazon burned at a rate not seen in years. Apuí is the second most deforested municipality in the entire Amazonas State, and has the highest rate of fire outbreaks in the Amazon. This is no coincidence. While some fires can be caused naturally by factors such as lightning strikes, most are actually started by farmers and loggers clearing land for crops or grazing.
Despite being highly deforested, Apuí supports 150 mammal species (of which 9 are threatened), almost 500 bird species (of which 14 are threatened) and 80 amphibian species. By avoiding further deforestation and restoring native forests, the project will conserve and support the biodiversity here by protecting and restoring habitats.
Developing sustainable farming systems
Low incomes mean farmers need to farm more land to earn a living, and do not have sufficient funding or motivation to restore native forests. The project will improve cattle ranching productivity and develop forest-friendly production systems, such as coffee agroforestry, to support the livelihoods of local families and avoid further deforestation. Forests on farmland will be restored with native trees.
Around 160 landowners will participate. As well as agroforestry, some farms will be transformed into silvopastoral systems that integrate trees on pasture with cattle, using a pasture rotation technique that allows for an increase in production using less land.
Farmers will receive technical support and training throughout the project to establish silvopastoral and agroforestry systems, as well as strengthening local expertise on forest restoration and sustainable farming. Technical support and the funding of tree planting and restoration is conditional on the signed agreement of landowners to halt fire and/or deforestation activities.
Connecting Apuí to new markets and regions
Developing a more productive system that provides better income will provide a significant incentive for farmers to maintain their silvopastoral systems. This aims to improve the productivity of both milk and beef production in Apuí, with increased revenue for the individual farmer.
A market already exists for Apuí Agroforestry Coffee which is available in “boutique” shops in the major cities of Brazil. Farmers that develop agroforestry systems in this project will be included in this commercial venture, benefiting from higher prices for their produce and increasing the chance that they will continue the forest-based systems developed in the project. In this way, the fire prevention and avoided deforestation practices will continue in the long-term too.