The Tambopata National Reserve, Madre de Dios region, Peru
About the project:
The Tambopata National Reserve in the Madre de Dios region of Peru is located between the fringes of the Amazon rainforest and the city of Puerto Maldonado. The land here had become degraded through both illegal mining and the single crop plantations of papaya that provided the community with much needed income but stripped the soil of nutrients. This type of practice led to deforestation, as farmers moved on in search of new plots of nutrient-rich land, often forested.
These scenarios are rapidly changing due to a groundbreaking project to transform agriculture in the southeastern region of Peru run by local, non-governmental organization AIDER and supported by impact investor and leading global natural capital fund manager, Althelia funds, part of Mirova, an affiliate of Natixis Investment Managers and a financial partner of Initiative 20x20. Althelia funds has invested in Ecosphere+, a leading company that is building a market for the environmental assets yielded by the fund, such as carbon credits, as well as for sustainably produced agricultural products, such as deforestation-free cocoa. Ecosphere+’s customers, a variety of companies ranging from large corporations to small and medium-sized enterprises, use a price on carbon and the purchase of carbon credits to finance forest protection projects, including the work of AIDER, which allows them to align their actions with global climate and development goals.
In 2014, AIDER supported the establishment of the Cooperativa de Servicios Multiples Tambopata Candamo (COOPASER), then a cooperative of 21 farmers. This has since grown to 350, a remarkable success story. AIDER works with farmers to develop individual business plans. For every 40 ha of land, including 20 of primary forest and 20 of crops, farmers must manage a minimum of 3 ha using these types of sustainable practices. To date, AIDER has restored and conserved 1,300 ha of forest within the Tambopata National Reserve buffer zone project.
This US$ 12 million investment programme is creating an economic buffer zone around a 570,000 ha forest (an area of approximately the size of Los Angeles). By helping local farmers with the transition to sustainable cocoa production, degraded land is being restored and deforestation pressures relieved. This creates a barrier to protect the rainforest and provides people with a forest-friendly and sustainable livelihood, with income generated through the sale of both carbon credits and cocoa.
AIDER receives carbon income from conserving virgin and secondary rainforest and managing the risk of buffer zone projects by engaging the local community in sustainable agriculture including agroforestry, instead of reforesting the area and fencing it off. The region has become an attractive opportunity for investors due to the lower risk of its carbon credits. Local people have incentives to restore and conserve land because of the benefit to their livelihoods, presenting a lower risk for the carbon credits economy of increasing tree and shrub cover to reduce emissions. In short, money raised from the carbon credits of forest conservation is funding the farmers’ crops and agroforestry.