The Zoró REDD+ & Reforestation Project: carbon mitigation and strengthening of seed bank for supporting indigenous livelihoods, biodiversity conservation and climate stewardship in the Brazilian Amazon

Photo courtesy Forest Trends/Ecoporé

Member: Forest Trends

Location: Zoró Indigenous Territory, Northwest of Mato Grosso state, Brazil

Size: The total size of Zoró Indigenous Territory is over 355,000.00 hectares. The project focus area is 2,000 hectares, where the generation of carbon credits and restoration co-benefits will be assessed.

Type of intervention: REDD

The pre-feasibility assessment for a potential carbon project in the Zoró Indigenous Territory,  will build on and expand the Forest Trends’ Communities and Territorial Governance Initiative (FT-CTGI) partnership with the Zoró community, which commenced in 2019. The analysis will be conducted for cost and effectiveness evaluation of activities, as well as social-cultural governance viability, of the potential carbon and restoration project, concentrating on the scaling up of current interventions, including:

  1. Conserving over 355,000 hectares of forest through improved fire control, territorial management, and governance.
  2. Reforesting 2,000 hectares with native species, restoring degraded grasslands to forest cover, and establishing 100 productive mixed-species agroforestry gardens.
  3. Diversifying and increasing incomes from forests and agroforestry systems will lay the economic foundation for sustainable management, benefiting approximately 711 Zoró individuals. This will be achieved through increased production and sales of Brazil nuts, native tree seeds, artisanal goods, açai, cacao, and other tree crops, as well as the development of local seed banks and nurseries.

The Zoró community confronts significant challenges due to deforestation, land degradation, illegal logging, and mining. They urgently require assistance to strengthen territorial governance, restore and protect their territory and environment, and generate and diversify their income. The community relies on labor-intensive wild harvesting of Brazil nuts from the forest for income, supplemented by sales of artisanal crafts. Their vulnerability is exacerbated by climate change, intensified deforestation and mining, and the legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Zoró Indigenous Territory, integral to the Tupi-Mondé Ethnoenvironmental Corridor, includes the last remnants of the Amazon forest that once covered approximately 50% of the state’s territory. Surveys demonstrate rich biodiversity, with 318 plant species identified across 136 genera and 56 families. Many of these species possess timber potential, driving illegal logging activities. The territory similarly hosts a diverse array of fauna, including vulnerable species.By safeguarding over 355,000 hectares of land through advanced fire control and improved governance measures, the carbon and restoration project, to be assessed for its feasibility, is expected to prevent the equivalent of 5.3 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. Reforestation efforts spanning 2,000 hectares could sequester more than 340,000 metric tons of CO2 over twenty years. The establishment of ‘forest islands’ will further stimulate natural regeneration, contributing to supplementary carbon sequestration. Income diversification initiatives will enhance economic resilience for Zoró families. By enhancing the Zoro’s ability to sequester carbon and protect their land and ecosystem, this project will concurrently strengthen territorial governance and generate alternative and diversified sources of income that reward indigenous forest stewards.