Brazil Pastureland Regeneration with Native Palm SilvopastureHB
Project Type: Regenerative Farming: Carbon Removals
Methodology: VCS Methodology for Afforestation, Reforestation, and Revegetation Projects
Together with more than 100 farms across the Vale do Paraiba region of São Paulo, Brazil, this silvopasture initiative aims to remove over 900,000 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere over 20 years, introduce a more responsible source of palm across 4,000 hectares, and increase farm incomes three-fold.
The project will include the planting of native Macaúba palms – a fruit and oil-producing palm native to the region – on degraded pasturelands – to create silvopastoral systems on lands on which cattle are currently grazing in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest (rainforest) biomes. As the Macaúba (Acrocomia aculeata) grow, they sequester carbon, which the project will measure per a VCS methodology for afforestation, reforestation, and revegetation. This palm is native to Brazil, and requires less than half the amount of water needed by the more common, non-native African palm grown in Brazil.
The project begins with harvesting the seeds from existing native Macaúba trees and continues with germinating the seeds, managing the nurseries, planting the seedlings, and then cultivating the Macaúba among grazing livestock.
The Macaúba begins to mature after approximately four years, when its fruits can be processed into pulp and kernel oil for cosmetics, soaps, cooking and biofuels, as well as pulp and kernel press cake for high-protein animal fodder. The pasturelands cannot be grazed during these first four years, to allow the Macaúba to establish, so livestock move to other areas of pastureland on each farm, and return after four years to graze among the palms and establish the silvopasture system.
Harvesting Macaúba Seeds
Three participants in Brazil’s work program for the incarcerated (APAC) are employed to crack the Macaúba nuts, releasing the seed embryo which will germinate in our local partner’s laboratory. The region offers this work program as an opportunity to learn skilled work, technical training and on-the-job experience, while earning an income and reducing sentencing, with the aim to improve individuals’ reintegration into society. One former APAC participant became a full time employee with our local partner.
Germinating and Planting Seedlings
Once the germinated seeds are established as seedlings, they are planted by our local partner, who also supports farmers with training and technical assistance to integrate the Macaúba seedlings into their pasturelands, including relocating livestock for the four year period necessary for the Macaúba to establish. The seedling maintenance in these first years is costly and farmers will not yet be earning income from harvested fruit. Brazil’s farmers living on degraded pasture land do not have the access to affordable finance nor the resources to make these higher risk investments, and thus, this project provides funding to compensate farmers for their work to maintain the seedlings until they mature.
Macaúba palm tree plantings will connect forest fragments across the landscape – currently a matrix of Atlantic Forest fragments, commercial Eucalyptus forests, pasturelands and croplands – whenever possible, creating ecological corridors that promote flux of genes through migration, dispersal, linkage, and interrelation of populations of wild flora and fauna.
Cultivating a Silvopasture System
Once the Macaúba are established above a certain height, livestock are reintroduced to the pasturelands, and the palms begin producing fruit that can be harvested and sold for local processing. With the palms and livestock in an integrated system, it is hoped the farms will benefit from reduced soil erosion, improved soil health, improved carrying capacity of the pastures and shade for livestock.
The sale of fruit harvested from the palm trees will more than triple the farmers per hectare incomes. Instead of working to produce the Macaúba fruits on large plantations and large centralized processing centers, this project is supporting our local partner’s aim to work primarily with existing landowners on degraded pasturelands to cultivate and supply Macaúba.
Financing and Catalyzing Change
This project invests today in the plantings necessary to result in carbon removals tomorrow, as well as in the transition to a more responsible source of palm. All with local farms at the center.
HelpBuild carbon finance overcomes the financial barrier local farmers face to entering and earning income from the global market for palm oil, by financing the work that it takes to germinate native Macaúba through to harvesting its fruits. It also supports a local partner to expand capacity to harvest and process palm to the quality and specifications of the market.
Macaúba palm oil is attractive to companies looking to source more responsibly grown, non-deforestation palm.Read less.