ArBolivia is a business solution to deforestation in the Bolivian Amazon, which is driven by large scale agriculture and by poverty and poor land management in the form of slash and burn subsistence farming. The project enables poor farmers to manage their land more sustainably whilst helping them to grow, harvest and sell native hardwood trees. Not only does this result in reforestation but it means the rainforest is also protected from further encroachment. Profits from timber are shared equally between farmers, who own the land and look after the trees and investors, who fund operational costs to ensure they breakeven.
Farmers treated as partners:
The ArBolivia Project splits the profits from timber revenues equally with farmers, rather than paying local people a salary and exporting most of the profit overseas. A consultative approach is adopted with farmers having the ultimate say on what is planted and harvested. Forestry committees also ensure that farmers get a fair say.
Creation of biodiverse environments:
The plantations established by the ArBolivia Project are highly diverse, since the project works with 12 native hardwood species that are planted within hundreds of individual smallholdings distributed over a very wide area. Conservation areas have also been created. This contrasts starkly with more typical examples of ‘sustainable’ forestry plantations - aptly named ‘green deserts’ – involving vast monocultures of non-indigenous trees.
Linking with communities:
Buying carbon credits from the ArBolivia Project does much more than offset the carbon footprint of an organisation or individual. It represents an investment in livelihoods, conservation and a long term solution to deforestation. We can link buyers to specific communities so that there is a really close connection between the buyer and the project.
Focus on areas of greatest stress
The project works with land that was previously deforested on the fringe of the Amazon rainforest. This is where the pressure on the rainforest is at its greatest, as slash and burn agriculture brings about deforestation from the edge inwards. There is no point conserving areas deep in the rainforest that are not under the least threat. In Bolivia, as elsewhere, the Amazon is being eroded from the margins.
The project was initially developed as a trial with the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. Since then (2007) it has been commercialised and has successfully operated for several years, having built a team of 42 people in Bolivia to support and train partner farmers in climate smart agriculture and to develop a sustainable timber business. This is now generating its first revenues and with matched funding of up to 750,000 Euros from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), the project has developed a timber processing business.
Project impacts and benefits:
The project delivers multiple benefits that place an equal balance between environmental and social factors, reflecting the focus on addressing poverty as a sustainable solution to deforestation.
- Carbon Sequestration: Clearly the starting point is carbon sequestration. The project has been verified for 298,763 tonnes of credits for the establishment and maintenance of its commercial hectares.
- Biodiversity: By working with 12 different native species, the project ensures a rich diversity and suitability for local soil types and conditions. It also helps to preserve species that might otherwise disappear and 43 hectare of conservation areas have been created to help limit flooding and act as havens for wildlife.
- Short & Long Term Income Generation for Farmers: The economic impact for poor smallholders is profound. In the short term farmers receive an ongoing maintenance payment that provides a vital source of additional cash for essentials like cooking oil. They also receive training to grow crops like coffee, citrus fruits and cacao, generating a short-term income that complements the long-term income from the trees. ArBolivia’s monitoring system also enables competent and reliable participants to access micro-loans to help them develop further. This long-term income is often viewed as an inheritance for their children or grandchildren, enabling them to fund further education and to break out of the cycle of poverty.
- Climate Smart Agriculture: By providing training and support, the project has enabled farmers to manage their land in a more sustainable manner, thus reducing the spread of further slash and burn agriculture. For example, a simple biofertiliser has been devised, which enhances soil fertility, in a way that farmers can afford, whilst provision of basic equipment enhances productivity and the need to expand the area under cultivation.
For more information about purchasing credits from this project, please contact David Vincent>>