Revitalizing landscapes damaged by intensive agriculture in Brazil’s Paraná State

By Climate Champions | May 28, 2024

Race to Resilience partner Initiative 20×20 is working with MIROVA and the SLB Group in Brazil to restore degraded land caused by intensive agriculture in Paraná. This project seeks to rejuvenate 1,400 hectares previously used for intensive farming practices by implementing innovative forestry methods that promise greater biodiversity and environmental sustainability. Learn more about the initiative here.

Partner: Initiative 20×20

Implementers: MIROVA, SLB Group

Country & Region: Brazil, Paraná

SAA System: Food security and agriculture systems

Beneficiaries/Impact: This project will restore 1,400 hectares of degraded land, impacting the local ecosystem positively and providing about 300 jobs in the area. It supports improved living conditions for workers and aims for the significant sequestration of carbon, estimated at up to 200,000 tCO2e through its planted forests and conservation efforts.

In the agricultural state of Paraná, Brazil, a project is underway to combat the environmental degradation wrought by decades of intensive agriculture. Brazil faces a significant challenge with approximately 140 million hectares of land already degraded, a situation exacerbated by a rapid increase in grain cultivation which surged by 80% between 1996 and 2006. This intensive land use has led to lower yields, loss of biodiversity, degraded soils, unstable water supplies, and hardships for local communities reliant on these lands for their livelihoods.

In response to these challenges, the SLB Group, under the partnership with MIROVA and supported by Race to Resilience partner, Initiative 20×20, created a program designed to restore 1,400 hectares of land previously degraded by intensive agricultural practices.

The initiative is part of a broader commitment to restore and preserve a total area that includes 2,500 hectares of FSC-certified plantations and 1,500 hectares of conserved forest. The project not only revitalizes the land but also sustains around 300 local jobs, enhancing living conditions and boosting local economies.

In alignment with the Principles for Ecosystem Restoration to Guide the United Nations Decade, this project applies the following aspects to distinguish itself from traditional eucalyptus monocultures:

  • Small and well-spread plantations that reduce pressure on ecosystems compared to large-scale models, guaranteeing higher biodiversity levels. SLB plants in a mosaic system, on smaller land plots, to preserve natural resources.
  • Planting in areas that have been degraded by intensive farming, deforestation, and overgrazing. The project focuses on land that was affected by intensive agriculture, notably conventional palm oil and soy plantations, to enable land restoration and soil improvement.
  • Applying a lower planting density compared to traditional timber plantations to preserve natural resources. SLB uses a lower density than its traditional peers in the region, allowing restoration of hydric capital and natural resources as well as growth of high quality and value-added wood.
  • A strong commitment to biodiversity and habitat restoration. SLB’s plantations have an average of 40% of managed land dedicated to the conservation and regeneration of native habitats. This supports biodiversity, with various species returning to SLB plantation areas – including the puma, recently sighted after a 15-year absence. To date, more than 1,500 hectares are being preserved, and SLB has identified over 27 species of interest.
  • A carbon strategy that quantifies the atmospheric CO2 captured. In SLB’s planted forests and conservation areas, it is estimated that the project will enable sequestration of up to 200,000 tCO2

SLB has also developed a patented input, “Terra Fertilis”, an organic, biochar-based fertilizer that significantly reduces the use of agrochemicals while supporting tree growth, soil health and soil organic carbon levels. SLB’s research and development in this supports EMBRAPA’s efforts to promote the use of biochar on a wider scale in the forestry sector in Brazil and worldwide.

To support this restoration and promote sustainable forestry, Mirova is providing a $12.6M investment to SLB through its Land Degradation Neutrality Fund. In the coming years, the group aims to expand this model and restore up to 20,000 hectares of degraded land, not only making a significant contribution to sustainability in Brazil’s forestry sector, but also engaging in even more active conservation and restoration.

About Initiative 20×20

Initiative 20×20 is a country-led effort seeking to change the dynamics of land degradation in Latin America and the Caribbean by beginning to protect and restore 50 million hectares of forests, farms, pasture, and other landscapes by 2030. The initiative—launched formally at COP 20 in Lima in 2014—supports the Bonn Challenge and the New York Declaration on Forests, global commitments to bring 350 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2030.

So far, 18 Latin American and Caribbean countries and three regional programs have committed to improve more than 52 million hectares of land (or about 124 million acres, an area roughly the size of Paraguay and Nicaragua combined) through Initiative 20×20.

The initiative is supported by more than 85 technical organizations and institutions and a coalition of impact investors and funds deploying US$3.09 billion in private investment.

About the Race to Resilience

The Race to Resilience campaign – the sibling campaign to Race to Zero – is the race to catalyze a step-change in global ambition, to accelerate the investment and implementation of adaptation solutions, and to put people and nature first in pursuit of a resilient world where we do not just survive climate shocks and stresses, but thrive in spite of them.

The Campaign was launched by the UN Climate Change High-level Champions in January 2021 at the Climate Adaptation Summit, alongside the State-driven Adaptation Action Coalition.

The ultimate goal of the Race to Resilience is to increase the resilience of four billion people living in vulnerable communities, in collaboration with partner organisations from around the world, while developing tools to support them in their work. It prioritizes the climate risks faced by urban, rural and coastal vulnerable communities and elevates the potential and actions that NSAs( e.g. businesses, cities, regions, finance sector, CSOs, local communities) are already pursuing towards system transformations enhancing resilience. The convening power of the campaign is geared towards increasing the ambition loop by delivering resilience breakthroughs and mobilising and increasing  financial flows for resilience.

Main image: