#Climate Change#: Reforestation CDM Project in Brazil

Although Brazil has got a lot of projects registered under the CDM scheme, only 2 of them are related to reforestation. The idea here is to analyze one of them, developed in the Tietê riverside, one important watercourse that crosses the city of São Paulo, within the state with the same name.

According to the Project Design Document, “The Tietê —São Paulo state’s largest river— runs 1,100 Km from its eastern source in the São Paulo Metropolitan Region to the western border of the state where it joins the Paraná river, which then runs southward, toward the Rio de la Plata estuary between Argentina and Uruguay. This river has had a tremendous influence on São Paulo City land pattern occupation and today’s industrial development set up within Metropolitan Area. Because it is located at the source of these gateways, the São Paulo Metropolitan Area has to import more than 50% of the water from other basins” (PDD, pg 10). In the last century, when São Paulo grew exponentially to be one the biggest cities in the world, the levels of pollution within the river increased a lot and the riverside was completely occupied in urban areas. The result was the damage in important ecosystems and consequently significant losses of biodiversity within the Atlantic Forest biome. The following picture shows the losses in vegetative coverage in the state.

Source: PDD (pg 51)

The project consists on the reforestation of up to 13.939 hectares of riparian areas currently occupied by unmanaged grassland along the banks of ten hydropower reservoirs in the State of São Paulo with native forest species. About 100 native different species are expected to be used, and the project will be carried out by AES Tietê, an electric sector’s company which owns the concession of 10 hydropower plants in the region with a total capacity of 2,6 GW.

The methodology applied to the project is “Afforestation and reforestation project activities implemented on unmanaged grassland in reserve/protected areas – AR-AM0010/version 04 (EB 50 on October 16 2009)”. In that sense, it’s important to highlight that the areas that will be recovered are protected areas according to the Brazilian environmental legislation regarding riverside, but there is no responsibility for the company to promote de reforestation of the area. Without the activity, the baseline is that the grassland remains unmanaged.

To proves additionality, the methodology used was “Tool for the demonstration and assessment of additionality for afforestation and reforestation CDM project activities” (version 02), approved by the CDM Executive Board (EB 35), to demonstrate additionality through investment, barrier and common practice analyses, as applicable. (PDD, pg. 22) Summarizing:

Once the additionality was proved, the main point becomes the estimation of GHG removals by sink. It remains as one of the most controversial aspects of afforestation and reforestation methodologies. “Estimation of ex ante actual net GHG removal by sinks was performed by the application of TARAM (Tool for Aforestation and Reforestation Approved Methodologies) made available by the World Bank BioCarbon Fund, by applying the stock-change method.” (PDD, pg. 31) So, the result of net sink is calculated deducting the amount estimated to be removed without the project from that one promoted by the project activity. No relevant leakages were identified. The monitoring process is very complex in this case, since there must be a detailed ex post laboratory analysis to prove that the expected removals really occurred.

To conclude, we see that this kind of project has no incentives from other origins to be undertaken. In this case, the CDM can really represent an incentive to the removal of GHG from the atmosphere, even though companies may do that also to improve their reputation, for publicity or for improving the relation with communities. The social and economic effects of this project are few, but from the environmental point of view reforesting the riverside can be positive for the biodiversity, for protecting the water stream from pollution, prevent floods, among other factors. The only point of concern is this case is the effective reduction of the mix of trees planted, what reinforces the demand for a clear and efficient monitoring plan.

 


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