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Envira Amazônia REDD+ project in Acre, Brazil


Description

Projeto Envira Amazônia is one of currently four carbon offset projects of the company CarbonCo in the Brazilian State of Acre. Aimed at producing carbon credits for companies in California to offset pollution, it is part of the international REDD+ program to ‘reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks’.

Located in the State of Acre, in the southwest of the Brazilian Amazon, the region looks back on a longer history of rubber extraction, pressure from deforestation and problems of tenure which are at the root of social and environmental conflicts, especially affecting indigenous communities, landless peasants and rubber tappers. In the past, Acre experienced particular social mobilization from rubber tappers which led to the establishment of a number of conservation units and extractive reserves in which local communities are allowed to use the resources of the forest to a certain limit. While environmental governance in Brazil has become successively decentralized over the past decades, the need for additional protection of forests and indigenous rights at the federal level remains an ongoing issue and cuts across policies that encourage agribusiness and economic development through the exploitation of natural resources. In an attempt to combat deforestation and provide a counter-incentive against the expansion of the agricultural frontier, Acre has become one of the States most actively pushing forward market-oriented policies for environmental protection. In 2010, it eventually adopted the Sistema Estadual de Incentivos a Serviços Ambientais (SISA), Brazil’s first legislative framework for the implementation of private REDD+ projects and Payment for Ecosystem Services schemes, however not without controversies regarding potential impacts on the local communities and its effectiveness to mitigate climate change. [1]

Projeto Envira Amazônia was established in 2012 in an area of dense tropical forest around 40 kilometers south of the city of Feijó. According to the project report, the area historically has been inhabited by riverine and rubber-tapper families, today officially around 60-70 people and 200 with the wider area who nowadays mostly live from subsistence agriculture, fishing and hunting. Only few of them possess land titles although the projects declared the will to facilitate these in the future for the currently inhabited and 'productive' areas. As the three other earlier projects in the region, Envira Amazônia is financed, designed and implemented by CarbonCo together with the project developer Carbon Securities. The land is owned by JR Agropecuária e Empreendimentos EIRELI which organizes actions on-site and reports cases of deforestation.  The land owner acquired the land in the 2000s with the intention to convert the forest to a large-scale cattle ranch but – as the project descriptions stresses – voluntarily decided to undertake a forest conservation project instead. By highlighting its ‘avoided deforestation’ effect and undertaken forest conservation measures, the project promises to mitigate the release of 12,5 million tons of carbon dioxide until the year 2022 as the accounting and implementation period is 10 years whereas the project activities should last for 30 years. Moreover it promises biodiversity conservation and community benefits such as better health and education, social projects and economic opportunities for the local people. However, although social benefits were extensively advertised in the public, the actions remain mostly unspecified besides that a few workshops (e.g. explaining the project or non-fire practices) were planned, toothbrushes and malaria pills might be distributed, and that Agropecuária e Empreendimentos EIRELI intends to set-up the sustainable commercialization of açai, medicinal plants and rubber which could then also benefit the communities. The project report instead suggests that most actions concern the technology-intensive monitoring and forest carbon inventory as the project has to provide the carbon market with scientifically robust and statistically accurate numbers of carbon stocks in the project area. From this perspective, subsistence practices and communities living are merely interfering factors and thus addressed as potential source of unplanned deforestation. [2]

In 2018, the World Rainforest Movement communicated their objections regarding the Envira Amazônia project, stating that empty promises were made but have not resulted in any benefits for the communities. While the project operates since 2012 and carbon credits are already being sold, community members report that they were only visited once to obtain their consent with the project (after it has already started) and that the only tangible action so far was that they were were offered a visit to the dentist. Ironically, the ‘exceptional community benefits’ were extensively advertised by the project and also criteria for the received certification but none of the announced activities had been accomplished by 2018. Moreover, communities face severe restrictions in the use of the forest, including the prohibited use of fire and abandoned agricultural land within the area of the Envira Amazônia project. The World Rainforest Movement notes an abuse of power by using the isolation of the communities and their unsolved land rights situation to impose restrictions of use on them. This would jeopardize their traditional way of living from subsistence farming in harmony with the forest and induce the young residents to leave the community and move to the city. While communities are framed as potential risk of deforestation, it is clear the the project will have no impact on the real drivers of deforestation outside the project area. Moreover, it is argued that it is not clear where the money went to, but it clearly did not benefit the communities. Also it is not clear how the owner could acquire such a vast area of land despite the unsolved land tenure situation which however did not impact the implementation of the project. About 10 families are reported to have land titles within the project area, and around 40 more around, but the majority does not have a formal justification although families who had been living there for more than ten years would have legal rights to own the land. [3]

Over the recent years Acre has experienced more and more mobilization against the implemented REDD+ projects in the region. Local indigenous movements have tried to build a broad alliance and received the support from environmental NGOs and organizations such as the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI). They have also raised wider critique on carbon offset projects concerning its rationale and impact on the financialization of nature stating that the commercialization of carbon credits would companies simply allow to pollute as long as a price for it is paid. In 2013, local organizations and activists sent an open letter to the Governor of California which includes the credits created in Acre’s REDD+ projects within its Global Warming Solutions Act. In their statement, they question the effectiveness of carbon trading and note that REDD+ projects and the State have violated their right of free, prior, informed consent, including the right to say no to such projects, as guaranteed in convention 169 of the International Labor Organization. They doubt that REDD+ will reduce global carbon emissions as it only gives permission to further pollution and environmental destruction. Instead, it would deepen social and environmental injustices by incorporating forests and its communities into a new capitalist market and by adopting a neocolonial and top-down logic and criminalizing traditional practices of forest peoples. They claimed for their basic rights to education health and territorial regularization and, the same time, expressed solidarity with the communities living near to the polluted Californian industries and are confronted with impacts on their health from ongoing pollution. [4] In the same year, a mass demonstration with 25.000 participants against several measures of the State government against the rights of the indigenous population took place in Acre’s capital Rio Branco and severe critique against REDD+ projects was articulated, and further demonstrations followed. [5] [6] The mobilization also tried to receive international attention when indigenous leader Ninawa Huni Kui tarvelled to the U.N. climate summit 2014 in Lima and made a statement against REDD in behalf of approximately 10,400 Huni Kui people and around 90 villages in Acre. He reaffirmed the critique and the caused problems for the communities stating that their traditional practices of fishing, hunting and cultivating food in the forest are no longer allowed, and thus communities only receive small transfers from the Bolsa Família welfare program but have no other way to maintain a living. He stresses that they were not consulted when the projects were launched despite their objections and their rights manifested in the indigenous laws. He also denounces intimidation against those speaking out against the REDD+ projects - as for example communities were threatened with the cut of educational and health services in case of opposition and their leaders were also personally persecuted - and notes attempts to divide the communities by co-opting some of their leaders, offering them money and cars for support of REDD+, and thus creating internal tensions. [7]

Recently more mobilizations have happened. In 2016 and 2017 more demonstrations for indigenous rights, the demarcation of indigenous lands and against REDD+ took place in the cities of  Feijó and Rio Branco, where 120 people symbolically occupied  the regional headquarter of FUNAI, the Governor’s Palace and the Assembléia Legislativa do Estado. [8] [9]  In 2017, representatives of different indigenous groups, traditional people, rubber tappers, academics and supporting organizations gathered for a meeting for three days and formed an alliance against REDD+ projects in the region that resulted in the 'Xapuri Declaration'. It criticizes carbon trading projects as a socially and environmentally destructive model that restricts and criminalizes traditional ways of life and lacks effectiveness to reduce carbon emissions because carbon credits are actually pollution credits. [10] Efforts of co-optation also created tensions when in 2017 the Association of the Movement of Indigenous Agroforestry Agents of Acre (AMAAIAC) used signatures of indigenous leaders in a letter that was circulated by the corporate sector to denounce CIMI and its support of the indigenous movement against REDD+. The indigenous community of the Jaminawa responded with an open letter that stated that, unlike stated in the letter, AMAAIC and its critique of CIMI does not represent them and that they are still opposed to REDD+ , demanding that everyone should stop speaking in behalf of them. [9] [11] Shortly after the alliance formed in Xapuri sent out a press release and open letter criticizing the Acre government, collaborating NGOs, and the public agency FUNAI for ongoing intimidation of indigenous communities and leaders opposed to REDD+. It stated that since the Xapuri meeting many participants had been pressured, threatened and intimidated by the ‘owners of power’ of Acre and criticized corruption, a lack of transparency, and the unwillingness of FUNAI and the State government to protect indigenous rights and the interest of the people. [12] In 2018, a delegation of 42 indigenous leaders met Pope Francis in Peru and received support and public attention for the worsening situation for the indigenous population of Brazil and ‘false solutions’ of environmental governance. In a statement the Pope explicitly problematized the logic behind carbon credits as a quick and easy solution and stated that it will not imply any radical change, but rather the opposite. [13] In 2018, the alliance of mobilizing indigenous groups, together with colonheiros (small-scale peasants), seringueiros (rubber tappers), riverside dwellers of Rio Envira, and solidarizing organizations met again and released the ‘Sena Madureira Declaration’  that emphasized their critique and their continuing resistance against offsetting projects in Acre and the false solutions of the green economy. They also noted that the recent resumption of the Jaminawa people to occupy their historical territory and international attention recently received give hope for the ongoing struggle. [14]

Basic Data

NameEnvira Amazônia REDD+ project in Acre, Brazil
CountryBrazil
ProvinceAcre
SiteFeijó
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
REDD/CDM
Specific CommoditiesLand
Ecosystem Services
Carbon offsets

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsThe project area is 39,000 hectares (tropical forest) and locatd around 40 kilometers south from the city of Feijó, along the Jurupari and Envira rivers. The projects are led by the US-based CarbonCo, LLC in partnership with Freitas International Group, LCC (also called ‘Carbon Securities’). CarbonCo is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Carbonfund.org Foundation, Inc. and responsible for project certification and its early-stage financing. Carbon Securities works as a facilitator between them and the project owners and managers, assisting with logistics for site visits and translations. The land owner is JR Agropecuária e Empreendimentos EIRELI and responsible for the on-site management of the project. Its owner is Duarte José do Couto Neto who has several businesses and links to the Brazilian center-right government. The project is certified by ‘Verified Carbon Standard’ and the ‘Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance’ and legally bound to the REDD+ and Payment for Ecosystem Services norms of the State of Acre (Sistema Estadual de Incentivos a Serviços Ambientais, adopted in 2010). Terra Carbon and TECMAN LTDA provided technical assistance. For the year 2015, the estimated carbon credits created through the project were equivalent to 2,119,925 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. In total the project promises to mitigate the release of 12,5 million tons. [2][15]
Project Area (in hectares)39,300
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Populationofficially 60-70 people within the project zone, 200 in the wider area
Start Date02/08/2012
Company Names or State EnterprisesFreitas International Group LLC (Carbon Securities) from United States of America - Project developer; facilitator between project initiator and land owner
TECMAN LTDA from Chile - Project partner, technical assistance
Terra Carbon LLC from United States of America - Project partner, technical assistance
JR Agropecuária e Empreendimentos EIRELI from Brazil - Land owner and manager
The Climate Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) from United States of America - certification
Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) from United States of America - certification
CarbonCO LLC from United States of America - Project initiator; certification, financing
Relevant government actorsState Government of Acre

Ministry of Justice and Public Security

FUNAI
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersFriends of the Earth Brazil https://amigosdaterrabrasil.wordpress.com/

The World Rainforest Movement https://wrm.org.uy/

Conselho Indigenista Missionário https://www.cimi.org.br/ - see also blog of Lindo Lindomar Padilha of CIMI Regional Amazônia Ocidental: https://lindomarpadilha.blogspot.com/

Federação do Povo Huni kui do Acre https://fephac.wixsite.com/fephac

Plataforma DhESCA Brasil http://www.plataformadh.org.br/

Conselho de Missão entre Índios http://comin.org.br/

Sindicato dos Trabalhadores Rurais de Xapuri

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Other Environmental impacts
Otherpotential biodiversity loss due to loss of indigenous land use practices and the species they maintain.
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Other socio-economic impacts, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Otherco-optation of community leaders [7]

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseRepression
Application of existing regulations
Development of AlternativesThe mobilizing communities who signed the Xapuri and Sena Madureira Declarations view carbon trading as a false response to climate change.

The human rights platform DhESCA who examine other REDD projects in Acre stresses the importance of the community's political and cultural rights. The strengthening of these would empower them to continue a life with and from the forest without being restricted in their ways of life, threatened, stigmatized or instrumentalized.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.There has been an effort of collective mobilization and awareness raising from local indigenous organizations and communities and some reports from media and international environmental NGOs but so far without being able to stop the project. Protests against REDD+ are part of a wider mobilization for demarcation and against the curtailing of indigenous rights.

Sources and Materials

Legislations

Californian Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32)
https://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/ab32/ab32.htm

Lei Nº 1.426 de 27 de Dezembre 2001, Estado do Acre (State Forestry Law)
http://www.al.ac.leg.br/leis/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Lei1426.pdf

Lei dos Serviços dos Ecossistemas #2.308/2010 (SISA; Acre Environmental Services Incentive System)
http://www.al.ac.leg.br/leis/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Lei2308.pdf

References

[15] CarbonCo (2016): The Envira Amazonia Project. A Tropical Forest Conservation in Acre, Brazil. (Summary)

[1] May, P; Millikan, B.; Gebara, M. (2011): The context of REDD+ in Brazil. Drivers, agents and institutions. CIFOR, Occasional Paper, 55, Second edition.

[2] CarbonCo (2015): The Envira Amazonia Project. A Tropical Forest Conservation Project in Acre, Brazil.

Links

[12] Motion of rejection and solidarity. (Open Letter) Published by World Rainforest Movement Online. (last accessed 15 July, 2018)
https://wrm.org.uy/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Letter-Acre-2017-ENG.pdf

[14] Brazil: Sena Madureira Declaration, June 17, 2018. Published by World Rainforest Movement Online. (last accessed 15 July, 2018)
https://wrm.org.uy/other-relevant-information/brazil-sena-madureira-declaration-june-17-2018/

[11] Padilha, L. (2017): Indígenas repudiam carta de perseguição ao CIMI no Acre. (Video published on 29 September, 2017, last accessed 15 June, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkwVhcRliZc&feature=youtu.b

[3] Kill, J. (2018): Projeto Envira REDD+, no Acre, Brasil: certificadoras de carbono atribuem Nível Ouro a promessas vazias. World Rainforest Movement Boletim Nro 237 – Abril / Maio 2018.

[4] Lang, C. (2013): Letter from Brazil opposing REDD in California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32). Published on 23 April, 2013 by Redd Monitor Online (last accessed 15 July, 2018).
http://www.redd-monitor.org/2013/04/29/letter-from-brazil-opposing-redd-in-californias-global-warming-solutions-act-ab32/

[6] Padilha, L. (2013): No Acre, em protesto, indígenas ocupam a frente do palácio do governador e assembléia legislativa. Blog entry on 4 October, 2013. (last accessed 15 July, 2018)
https://lindomarpadilha.blogspot.com/2013/10/no-acre-em-protesto-indigenas-ocupam.html

[9] World Rainforest Movement (2017): Brasil: Povos Indígenas do Acre declaram sua rejeição às políticas de REDD e seu apoio ao CIMI. Article published by World Rainforest Movement on the 3 October, 2017. (last accessed 15 July, 2018)
https://wrm.org.uy/fr/actions-et-campagnes/brasil-povos-indigenas-do-acre-declaram-sua-rejeicao-as-politicas-de-redd-e-seu-apoio-ao-cimi/

[8] Padilha, L. (2016): Em Rio Branco, AC, indígenas realizam ato e ocupam simbolicamente a Funai, Palácio do Governo e Assembléia Legislativa contra a violação de seus direitos. Blog entry on 13 July, 2016. (last accessed 15 July, 2018)
https://lindomarpadilha.blogspot.com/2016/07/em-rio-branco-ac-indigenas-realizam-ato.html

[10] Xapuri Declaration, May 28, 2017. Published by World Rainforest Movement Online. (last accessed 15 July, 2018)
https://wrm.org.uy/actions-and-campaigns/xapuri-declaration-may-28-2017/

[5] Padilha, L. (2013): 25 mil pessoas vão às ruas de Rio Branco Para desespero do Tião Viana. Blog entry on 23 June, 2013, last accessed 15 July, 2018)
https://lindomarpadilha.blogspot.com/2013/06/25-mil-pessoas-vao-as-ruas-de-rio.html

[13] Portal Tarauacá (2018): Papa receberá indígenas durante encontro em Puerto Moldonado. A delegação acriana será de 42 líderes indígenas. Published on 13 january, 2018 by Portal Taraucá (last accessed 15 July, 2018).
www.portaltarauaca.com.br/2018/01/13/papa-recebera-indigenas-durante-encontro-em-puerto-moldonado-a-delegacao-acriana-sera-de-42-lideres-indigenas/

[7] Democracy Now (2014): Brazilian Indigenous Leader: Carbon Trading Scheme “REDD” is a False Solution to Climate Change. (Video, last accessed 15 July, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAp5m9JaNwE

Media Links

Meeting of indigenous and traditional communities Feijó in September 2017, announcing the open letter in support of CIMI and against attempted cooptation through the REDD+ proponents.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkwVhcRliZc

Sena Madureira Declaration
https://wrm.org.uy/other-relevant-information/brazil-sena-madureira-declaration-june-17-2018/

Xapuri Declaration
https://wrm.org.uy/actions-and-campaigns/xapuri-declaration-may-28-2017/

Video: Brazilian Indigenous Leader: Carbon Trading Scheme “REDD” is a False Solution to Climate Change
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAp5m9JaNwE)

Open Letter to Governments and Press Release 2017
https://wrm.org.uy/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Letter-Acre-2017-ENG.pdf

Videos series with 22 videos from Xapuri documenting the effects of REDD+ on traditional population (Os efeitos das políticas ambientais/climáticas para as populações tradicionais)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikBI1uf1Plc&list=UUqT0Ty2Ri4ooQZjCYXgfxxg&index=1

Other Documents

Banner at the movement's meeting In Sena Madureira in June 2018.
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/1-768x576.jpg

Demonstration against REDD in September 2017 in Feijó.
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Fora-REDD-300x249.jpg

Meeting in 2018 in Sena Madureira with the aim to build a broader alliance against carbon trading
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/2-768x576.jpg

The Envira project area is located along the Jurupari river
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/EnviraRainbow-480x460.jpg

A picture used to advertise the project and its social benefits.
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/EnviraSchool.jpg

Meta Information

ContributorMax Stoisser
Last update09/11/2018

Images

 

Banner at the movement's meeting In Sena Madureira in June 2018. (Source: Amigos da Terra)

Meeting in 2018 in Sena Madureira with the aim to build a broader alliance against carbon trading (Source: Amigos da Terra)

The Envira project area is located along the Jurupari river (Source: Carbonfund.org)

A picture used to advertise the project and its social benefits (Source: Carbonfund.org)

Rio Branco, June 2013: mass demonstration against the restriction of indigenous rights and Acre's green economy policies. (Source: Lindomar Padilha)

Demonstration against REDD in September 2017 in Feijó. (Source: Lindomar Padilha )

A forest base of the Envira Amazônia project (Source: World Rainforest Movement)

Announcement of open letter in support of CIMI and against attempted cooptation through the carbon trading lobby in 2017 (Source: REDD-monitor.org)