Payments for reduced deforestation in Acre, Brazil have finally started to flow, four years after the state first passed its payment for ecosystem services law. In corporate news, major clothing brands H&M, Zara and Stella McCartney announced that they will find alternatives to fabrics sourced from endangered forests within three years. Personal products company Johnson & Johnson released a new palm oil sourcing policy to protect people and forests – a bold move considering the complexity of the company’s palm supply chain.
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12 May 2014 | The Brazilian state of Acre is “the best in the world when it comes to subnational jurisdictions working on REDD, (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation or Degradation of forests),” Brian McFarland of the Carbon Fund told Ecosystem Marketplace. The state’s 2010 payment for ecosystem services (PES) law, known as SISA from the Portuguese acronym, aims to place economic value on forests, biodiversity, water, soil, climate – and even traditional knowledge – to create mechanisms to invest in ecosystem and cultural survival. The forest carbon aspect of the law is the furthest along, and in 2012 Acre partnered with the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) to pilot their Jurisdictional Nesting REDD+ framework.
However, it was a long road before finance actually began to flow, especially for the rubber tappers and small farmers who constantly face competing demands. Last November, Chief Jose Maria Arara of the Arara people expressed his frustration at a workshop in Acre.
“When will PES arrive?” Zé Maria asked. “We’ve held about five different meetings…”
This year, he got his answer – at least in part. The Acre Association of Indigenous Agroforesty Agents received 3.6 million Reais (US $1.6 million) in January, and the state put up an additional 3 million Reais (US $1.35 million) in April. The funding is part of the German development bank KfW’s commitment to spend 50 million Reais (US $24.2 million) in Acre through 2018 – and it marks the German government’s first grant to a state rather than a country.
To disperse the first 1.5 million Reais this year, Acre’s government will issue a series of calls for proposals to support indigenous people’s long-term development visions, known as “life plans.” The awards will range from 50,000 to 210,000 Reais and can be used for a variety of activities, from strengthening land management practices to generating income for women. Though international REDD+ payments are based on the state’s ‘performance’ against emissions targets, Acre’s government has the leeway to distribute the funds internally based on a variety of activities consistent with the SISA law, including payments for watershed services and payments for habitat restoration. The state government believes these targeted payments will ultimately result in lower deforestation rates across its territory – and that means more REDD+ income down the road.
“We’re talking about 2.4 million hectares of forest being managed by indigenous peoples,” said Beto Borges, who heads Forest Trends’ Communities and Market Initiative, which has been working in Acre for years. “That’s 15 distinct ethnicities dispersed among 35 indigenous territories. Their traditional territories have been demarcated. They’re official. Now, the new funding from SISA will strengthen the management and conservation of their forests.”
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Ã¢â‚¬â€The Ecosystem Marketplace Team
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