The Guaraqueçaba Climate Action Project is a nearly 19,000 hectares forest conservation project in the Brazilian State of Paraná. Initiated by the NGOs The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Sociedade de Pesquisa em Vida Selvagem e Educação Ambiental (SPVS) in 2001, it is one of the world’s first forest carbon offset projects.  It has been internationally presented as pioneer model for REDD (Reducing Emissions for Deforestation and Forest Degradation) to mitigate climate change. It is an attempt to quantify emissions saved by not cutting down forests – implying that these would be otherwise deforested – and selling these as carbon credits, creating economic incentive.  
The Paraná coastal area is traditionally inhabited by Caiçara, Quilombola and Guarani communities. For centuries the local communities have used the land and the surrounding area for fishing, hunting and small-scale extraction of palmito, vines and wood.   In the area, land has been in shared use over generations and communities practiced agricultural activities, sometimes individually, in families, or collectively but in most cases communities never became registered as land owners. They livelihoods were based on the forest and on traditional practices of subsistence farming (of crops such as cassava) which relied on shifting cultivation as well as on hunting and fishing. Thus, communities depend directly on the forest and an harmonious coexistence, having left the area as one of the most well-preserved ones of the Atlantic Forest biome which in other areas has already suffered from high levels of destruction. In the 1960s, the region experienced the arrival of loggers, and in the following, ranchers came who began to register and take over control of the land. A common practice was grilagem, the illegal registration and appropriation of land. Ranchers used jagunços (hired gunmen) to invade the territory and threaten small farmers. Due to the local conditions of deforested land prone to be flooded, they mostly held water buffaloes instead of cattle.   
First conservation units of today’s Guaraqueçaba protection zone were established in the 1980s without public consultation and planning, thus already creating a series of conflicts due to restrictions of access and the loss of commonly shared space. In the 1990s, conservation NGOs such as SPVS arrived in the region with the main interest to conduct conservation studies but without engaging in dialogue with the affected communities. In 1994, SPVS was donated areas within the protection zone and established the conservation unit of Morro da Mina, and in 1999 they acquired further areas forming the units of Serra do Itaqui and Rio Cachoeira. They thus controlled a total of 18,600 hectares of protected land in the municipalities of Guaraqueçaba and Antonina, parts of it were however degraded from grazing.  To generate funding for the necessary reforestation and conservation measures, they, together with TNC, initiated the Guaraqueçaba Climate Action Project as a pioneer carbon offset model and in 2001 officially started a cooperation with the three U.S. companies General Motors, American Electric Power and Chevron.   As one of the first actions, SPVS prohibited further farming in the area and the use of the forest through the local community.  They removed all buffalo from the area and adopted accounting and monitoring measures. The installing of the forest police known as Força Verde together with the restrictions of usage is perhaps the clearest controversy in this conflict.   From official side the projects has been presented as one giving benefits back to the community, providing workshops in skills such as ecology or first aid, employing dozens of people from the region (e.g. as forest rangers) and promoting sustainable business in the area.  It is stated that “The main goals of the project are biodiversity conservation, restoration of degraded pasture, sustainable development of local communities, and generation of carbon offsets that are real, measurable, and verifiable.”  At the beginning, 47 people from the local communities (three of them women) were employed as forest rangers and paid slightly more than minimum wage. It was promised that like the project these jobs would last for 40 years. However, the opportunities for income generation were not long-lasting as from the initial employees almost all got fired and other training and skill-building initiatives that were initially provided to the community have gradually dwindled out over the years as the conservation groups ran out of money. A honey production project is the only initiative that was reported to be successfully ongoing, and a ecotourism cooperative has recently started to operate.  
On the Nature Conservancy’s website the project is promoted as an example of corporate partnership that makes an invaluable contribution to protecting biodiversity.  However, journalists and environmental justice organizations have documented community voices about experienced negative impacts of the project. Interviews with the affected communities reveal that the idea of carbon trade is not tangible to people, they do not understand why money is paid but does not arrive at the communities.  People report that their access to the abundant forest and rivers gradually became restricted, including the prohibition of cutting down trees for self-sustenance, even on community owned land. A community member stated: “We have always preserved the forest, except that sometimes we need to cut a few trees too, sometimes we need to build a house, we need wood. But it’s not allowed, so things are difficult. When the SPVS arrived, it was the end of anything.“  Community members also reported that park rangers shot after them when collecting vines. Another local community member reported that Força Verde came into his house several times without authorization, wearing weapons, harassing his family and even confiscating knives. Other reports include the handcuffing of people and a fine following several days of imprisonment for a community member who cut down a tree to build a canoe.   
While the 55 communities within the Climate Action Project are forced to adopt a way of life that depends more on the generation of economic income, having to buy food instead of collecting or growing it, most of them do not see an increase in income through the project. In fact, the restriction of territory and modes of production and criminalization of their traditional way of life due to the Climate Action Project might partly explain why the region shows the lowest human development indicators in the State of Paraná and one of the lowest in whole Brazil.  Many residents were left without means of survival and thus men had to look for work outside the area and leave women and children alone in an unsafe state.  As a consequence, this has led to profound socio-economic changes. Many families have chosen to move away from the place they have lived for generations. The community became more dependent on wage labor, instead of producing cassava they now have to buy it, and dietary habits have changed. As people moved away, communities became smaller and middle-class families from Curitiba have started to buy up land and houses to spend weekends and holidays.   Some villages in the interior parts are now almost abandoned as life has become too difficult. A villager reported that his family is the only one left. Many people moved to Antonina, the closest village. They have difficulties to adapt to life in the urban environment, lack skills to find work and generate income, and often live in inhospitable, irregular accommodations. Their situation has increased the number of diseases and a circle of poverty and formerly unknown social problems such as the separation of families, prostitution, drugs or alcoholism. 
Some local inhabitants have organized to resist the restrictive action of SPVS. In 2003, some local communities, with support of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST), occupied an area of land to prevent its sale to SPVS. This was done in a move to solidarize with posseiros – small landless farmers without official land ownership who had come to occupy abandoned and degraded land but were at the risk of eviction. Until today, 20 families live there in an established camp named Acampamento Agroflorestal José Lutzenberger (the name of an environmentalist) and hope to be able to recognize it as an agrarian reform settlement by the Brazilian government. In 2017, the Instituto Nacional de Colonização e Reforma Agrária (INCRA) was still in negotiations to buy the land from old owners. The community reported repeated pressure against them as well as the use of toxic agrochemicals by the ranch owners polluting the local river, which was however ignored by the environmental authorities. As an alternative approach, they have carried out small reforestation projects and collective afro-forestry projects, combining organic farming at about 10 percent of the surface with the cultivation of trees which led to the recuperation of formerly abandoned land. Food is sold to nearby schools via a national school nutrition program, but families also cultivate small parcels for their own use. While there are no direct mobilizations against SPVS, communities have received international support with several environmental justice organizations and journalists raising awareness for their struggle and the reported changed living circumstances due to the project, but also against carbon offsetting policies in general as these would just allow corporations to buy credits to make up for their caused environmental damage. In 2017, the community in the José Lutzenberger camp received the Juliana Santilli award and some financial support for their efforts in conservation and sustainable practices of agroecological production (e. g. café, banana, cabbage).