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Guaraqueçaba Climate Action Project in traditional communities in Paraná, Brazil

The Guaraqueçaba Climate Action Project restricts and discriminates the communities' traditional ways of life and causes social problems. However, an agroforestry movement has shown resistance and created a sustainable and socially just alternative.


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. [1] 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. [2] [3]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Guaraqueçaba Climate Action Project in traditional communities in Paraná, Brazil
State or province:Paraná
Location of conflict:Antonia / Guaraqueçaba
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:REDD/CDM
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Carbon offsets
Ecosystem Services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Guaraqueçaba Environmental Protection Area consists of three conservation units created between 2000 and 2002: Serra do Itaqui which is financed with 5 million USD from American Electric Power, Morro da Mina (3 million USD from Chevron) and Cachoeira (10 million USD from General Motors) with a total of 18,600 hectares. The three companies are among the biggest greenhouse gas polluters in the United States. American Electric Power is also involved in the Bolivian Noel Kempff project that is initiated by The Nature Conservancy. While TNC sets up the deals with the corporative investors, it has recruited SPVS as a Brazilian partner organization to buy the land and manage the project. Força Verde receives training from SPVS. While in the past all three companies have lobbied the U.S. government against signing the Kyoto climate accord, they seem to have a clear interest in supporting pioneer carbon offset projects and the creation of a carbon market that allows them to exceed potential regulations. However, as the project is based on an ‘avoided deforestation’ logic instead of reforestation, it is so far not included in the international carbon market launched by the UN Kyoto accord. Instead they are sold on the United States domestic carbon market at about half of the price of credits in the Kyoto market. The project area has 190 carbon measuring stations that serve monitoring and calculating the stored carbon. The project officially started in 2001 and lasts for 40 years. SPVS claimed in 2010 that the so far created conservation and reforestation activities have already removed 860,000 tons of carbon from the atmosphere and will prevent the emission of another 370,000 tons in course of the rest of the project. Close to one of the communities is a forest research center of SPVS financed through the HSBC Climate Partnership Programme. [1][3][6][8][9]

Project area:18,600
Level of Investment for the conflictive project18,000,000 (initial investment)
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:unknown
Start of the conflict:01/07/2001
Company names or state enterprises:American Electric Power from United States of America - finances Serra do Itaqui conservation unit
General Motors (GM) from United States of America - finances Cachoeira conservation unit
Chevron Polska Energy Resources Sp. z o.o. from United States of America - finances Morro da Mina conservation unit
International and Finance InstitutionsHSBC United Kingdom (HSCB) from United Kingdom
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:World Rainforerst Movement -
Acampamento Agroflorestal José Lutzenberger -
MST - Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra -
Associação para o Desenvolvimento da Agroecologia -
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Landless peasants
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactspotential loss of biodiversity sustained by traditional land use practices such as shifting cultivation
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Malnutrition, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Infectious diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Under negotiation
Application of existing regulations
Proposal and development of alternatives:An alternative pathway is also shown by the José Lutzenberger camp and its collective and sustainable agroforestry practices. Such a model would allow subsistence use of the forest through communities who have proven to live there in a sustainable way. A member of the affected community in Guaraqueçaba stated: “The forest cannot be sold, it’s ours. The others can use it but they need to know how to share it with us, not buy everything and expel us.” [2]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Impacts on the local communities seem to have been tremendous and irreversible, leading to profound socio-economic changes and social problems for many people due to the restrictions and pressures on their way of life. At the same time, media coverage of the case has created a critical awareness of problems arising from REDD and similar conservation projects. The social mobilization around the José Lutzenberger camp has provided a sustainable community response to the conflict and recently found wider acknowledgement.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[3] Kill, J. (2014): REDD in Brazil: Two case studies on early forest carbon offset projects. Rio de Janeiro: Heinrich Böll Stiftung Brasil.

[5] Sibuya, N. et al. (2013): A dicotomia entre a conservação e o reconhecimento e fixação das comunidades tradicionais: um estudo de caso na APA de Guaraqueçaba – PR. Jornada Questão Agrária, Universisade Federal do Paraná.

[11] Banzato, V. (2015): Alternativas aos impérios agroalimentares a partir do campesinato agroecológico: as experiências do acampamento agroflorestal José Lutzenberger (MST – Antonina/PR). Revista Nera, 18/29 – Julho/Dezembro de 2015.

[1] World Rainforest Movement (2011): Um projeto de redução de desmatamento no Paraná, Brasil, e a perseguição das comunidades. Boletim Mensual 169 – Agosto 2011.
[click to view]

[2] FERN (2012): Suffering here to help them over there. (accessed online 15 July, 2018)
[click to view]

[4] Rohden, J. (2017): Ocupação do MST no Paraná ganha prêmio por recuperação da Mata Atlântica. Article at ‘Brasil de Fato’, 28 October, 2017. (accessed online 15 July, 2018)
[click to view]

[6] Schapiro, M. (2009): GM’s Money Trees. Article at ‘Mother Jones’, November / December Issue. (accessed online 15 July, 2018)
[click to view]

[7] Zwick, S. (2009): Guaraqueaba: Where the Buffalo Roamed. Article at ‘Forest Trends’ on 18 March, 2009. (accessed online 15 July, 2018)
[click to view]

[8] Forest Trends (2018): Action Project against Global Warming in Guaraqueçaba. (accessed online 15 July, 2018)
[click to view]

[9] TNC (2010): Projeto de carbono colabora com o desenvolvimento sustentavel de comunidades no Parana. Article at UC Socioambiental, 18 November, 2011. (accessed online 15 July, 2018)
[click to view]

[10] Lang, C. (2012): Community voices on The Nature Conservancy’s Guaraqueçaba Climate Action Project: “We’re suffering here to help them over there”. Article at ‘Redd Monitor’ on 7 June, 2012 (accessed online 15 July, 2018)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Video coverage: "Suffering here to help them over there"
[click to view]

Video by SPVS and TNC: "SPVS/TNC - Carbon Sequestration and REDD Project in Brazil"
[click to view]

Video by FERN on REDD: "The Story of REDD: A real solution to deforestation?"
[click to view]

Video coverage: "Brazil: The money tree"
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Max Stoisser
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3589
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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