Less carbon emission through sustainable cacao production

The deforestation of tropical rainforests in Peru is a source of greenhouse gas emissions and a threat to the habitat of rare plant and animal species. The Dutch REDD+ Business Initiative aims to protect tropical forests by supporting local communities to improve their agricultural practices in forested areas. Sustainable cacao production provides the farmers with a decent income so they won’t need to chop down more trees. This helps secure the long-term conservation of 570,000 hectares of natural forest and prevents the emission of 450,000 tonnes of CO2.

Problem

Although Tambopata National Reserve in Peru is protected by the Peruvian government, the forested area in the buffer zone around this protected area is diminishing by 1,189 hectares annually. The main cause: deforestation by local people. When agricultural land is not fertile enough for the cultivation of crops, the farmers have no choice but to cut down parts of the forest and convert it into farmland. Loss of these forests is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, tropical deforestation is responsible for no less than one fifth of the world’s total emission of greenhouse gases. This makes deforestation a major cause of climate change as well as a threat to rare animal species and plant life. 

Approach

To secure the long-term conservation of the National Reserve of Tambopata, several Dutch companies have launched the REDD+ Business Initiative in collaboration with IUCN NL. Participating companies invest half a million euros in agriculture in the Tambopata region. The initiative enables local farmers in Tambopata to improve their farming practices and thus their economic situation, which in turn helps prevent deforestation. Through this project 1,100 farmers receive support with the restoration of 4,000 hectares of degraded lands for the sustainable production of cacao. The REDD+ Business Initiative also helps local farmers become Fair Trade and Organic certified. This ensures that the principles of fair trade and organic farming are respected and enables them to secure a good position on the international cacao market.

Result

The initiative allows 1,100 local farmers and their families to profit from the benefits of certified organic and fair trade farming. The farmers are now able to produce large amounts of high-quality cacao. The selling of this cacao offers them a better income and decreases the need to cut down trees for agricultural purposes or the sale of timber. This helps secure the long-term conservation of 570,000 hectares of natural forest, an area five times the size of National Park De Hoge Veluwe in the Netherlands. The conservation of the National Reserve of Tambopata also prevents the emission of 450,000 tonnes of CO2. In exchange for contributing to the prevention of deforestation, the Dutch partner companies receive certificates which they can use to compensate for those CO2 emissions that cannot be reduced (carbon offsetting). Besides climatic benefits, combating deforestation also contributes to the preservation of unique plants and animals. Tambopata is home to 16 animal species that are considered highly endangered. Recently 13 new species were discovered in the area.

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The REDD+ Business Initiative was born out of IUCN NL’s Platform Biodiversity, Ecosystems & Economy (Platform BEE) and the Dutch Confederation of Industry and Employers VNO-NCW. The REDD+ Business Initiative also receives funding from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. All projects are carried out in collaboration with the Althelia Climate Fund. Partnering companies include Desso, Eneco, Essent and FMO.

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