Acre Ecosystem Restauration Collaboratory for People, Nature and Climate

Brazil – South Western Amazon

Acre Ecosystem Restauration Collaboratory for People, Nature and Climate

Main contact points:

Rui Ribeiro: CEiiA/Elio Tecnologia, São Paulo, Brazil
Jean-Pierre Cantaux: Canopée, São Paulo, Viçosa, Brazil
Marcio Spinosa: Fundação Auracária, CONFAP (National Council of State Funding Agencies), Brasil

Deforestation affected forest, Amazon, Brasil, 2022; by Rui Ribeiro

The Acre Ecosystem Restauration Collaboratory for People, Nature and Climate (ACRE CoLAB) aims to foster sustainable forest management making use of pilot projects of ecosystem restauration as a tool to revert deforestation vectors on an critically relevant REDD+ Reference Region (i.e., “Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation” in developing countries, integrated on the United Nations Ecosystem Restauration Decade 2020-2030, of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC. The pilot projects will use data derived from Earth Observation systems in combination with other advanced data acquisition and processing systems, to enable innovative policies and practices driven by new research dealing with ecosystem restauration and community engagement.

The Brazilian Acre state is located in the westernmost part of Brazil, in the Amazonia Legal, at a two-hour time difference from Brasília. It is bordered clockwise by the Brazilian states of Amazonas and Rondônia to the north and east, the Bolivian department of Pando to the southeast, and the Peruvian regions of Madre de Dios, Ucayali and Loreto to the south and west.

The Acre’s REDD+ Reference Area covers 212.213 hectares with a total deforestation area of 31.500 (an average deforestation annual rate of about two thousand hectares since 2005) and an equivalent area of degraded forest areas, where 4 deforestation and forest degradation vectors have been identified, as follows:

  1. Expansion of Sena Madureira City;
  2. River local population;
  3. Settlements in REDD+ project vicinity;
  4. Trans-acreana road constriction.

The rationale for the project relies on recent assessments on the linkages between ecosystems and human well-being and, in particular, on “ecosystem services”, following the framework provided by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment [1] .

ACRE CoLAB will leverage activities developed by Canopée and CEiiA/Elio Tecnology over the last few years, including the use of digital sensors installed in unmanned autonomous space platforms specially built for high resolution ortho-photogrammetry. Recent projects have included the analysis of 15.000 hectares, including the detection of deforestation and, especially, forest degradation rates.

ACRE CoLAB aims to stop and revert deforestation and forest degradation rate, recovering at least ten thousand hectares of deforested or degraded land in 4 years through a well establish ecosystem restauration plan, including the following steps:

  • Observation: Monitoring of biodiversity, ecosystem health and integrity, and human well-being responses to restoration will be established to determine whether objectives and goals are being met. The engagement of stakeholders in monitoring will be prioritized to promote social learning, capacity development and communication among stakeholder groups and communities of practice.
  • Open Access library: Establish a base for ecosystem regeneration species in Western Amazon Region, making use of an open access library of basic characteristics and forms of economic exploitation of bioproducts, including existing knowledge bases, as well as through new research. It considers relationships with consumer markets for bioproducts;
  • Research & innovation: Promote new research and innovation activities oriented towards forest-based housing, clean water access and sanitation;
  • Capacity Building and Training: Establish a professional and specialized training program for plant production and ecosystem regeneration;
  • Community engagement: Engaging local communities and establish sustainable forest management teams;
  • Outreach: Promote cooperation with other degraded and deforested areas in the “Amazon Arch”, reaching a total deforested area of about 83 million hectares, as well as to other Amazon countries, like Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Suriname e as Guianas.

The CoLAB Impact will be documented and shared both locally and globally. Knowledge about effective practices and innovative approaches will be systematically captured and shared to develop, adapt and replicate successful experiences, and to avoid repeating mistakes.

This will also allow for the identification of knowledge gaps and strategic research and capacity-development priorities. To facilitate the exchange of knowledge and information, platforms and networks for documenting, integrating and sharing that knowledge and information will be developed and made widely available through regularly updated, easily accessible, understandable and culturally appropriate communication and dissemination channels (taking into account languages and literacy levels).

Main implementation principles have been designed and assessed to include the following:

  • Guarantee that ecosystem restoration activities result in a net gain for biodiversity and ecosystem integrity, together with human well-being, sustainable production of goods and services. They must consider activities to replace forest degradation and assist recovering activities, accounting for environmental change;
  • Enhance (and not replace) nature conservation, especially in areas with high ecological integrity and high value of ecological connectivity. Particular attention is to be considered in Indigenous territories and traditional communities. This is because management practices intended to be restorative should support and assist natural recovery processes and not cause further degradation. For example, the use of genetically appropriate germplasm of native species should be favored, whereas non-native species potentially or already proven to be invasive should be avoided;
  • Address the direct and indirect causes of ecosystem degradation and fragmentation, as well as losses of biodiversity and ecosystem goods and services. If the causes are not properly addressed, restorative activities may fail over the long term. During the planning phase of restoration projects, the degree and causes of degradation should be identified, and actions should be developed to reduce and mitigate their impacts at the appropriate scale. These actions should include eliminating incentives that directly or indirectly promote ecosystem degradation;
  • Guarantee knowledge integration to foster inclusive and consensual decision-making throughout the process, while enabling full participation of local stakeholders and right-holders. Likewise, capacity-development efforts should be focused on promoting mutual learning, as well as knowledge-sharing among stakeholders and communities of practice at local, national and global levels;
  • Adequately address land-level factors, including threats from the larger landscape, exchanges of energy and organisms across ecosystem boundaries, ecological and hydrological connectivity, and transboundary effects;
  • Contribute to achieve the climate and land-degradation neutrality goals of the Rio Conventions – CBD, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC);
  • Engage diversified stakeholders, including under-represented groups (e.g., local communities, Indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities).

Main challenges to guarantee maximizing long-term net gain from restorative activities require:

  • coordinating actions among institutions, sectors and stakeholders, through a well-functioning governance system;
  • fostering local, national and international political commitment and transboundary agreements;
  • providing capacity-development opportunities to empower people, organizations, institutions and networks involved in restoration;
  • mainstreaming effective practices to have broad influence and allow replication;
  • identifying, mobilizing and maintaining adequate funding (from government, the private sector, international organizations, or other sources) to complete all phases of the process;
  • developing income mechanisms (e.g., through sustainable production, ecotourism, payment for ecosystem services and other sustainable uses of natural resources) that do not compromise the integrity of the restoration process and support its financial viability; and
  • protecting the security of stakeholders and right-holders, especially in areas of political conflict or conflict over natural resources. Likewise, promoting and replicating successful ecosystem restoration activities and approaches will facilitate and influence the design of laws, policies and measures – at local, national and global levels – to help prevent, halt and reverse ecosystem degradation.

[1] Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis. World Resources Institute, Washington DC.