Model Farm

Model Farm

ACRAA Forest Reserve / Model Agroforestry Research Farm

Project Status: Conceptual Phase

Looking further down the road we at ACRAA do intend to undertake a larger-scale forest restoration and agroforestry development project. This we feel should be possible through the direct purchase of agricultural land (e.g., soya acreage). This initiative will be called the ACRAA Forest Reserve / Model Agroforestry Research Farm. A suitable area to initiate such an endeavour might be around 100 ha, purchased in an area just south of Alter do Chão called Belterra (numerous soya farms are present in this area).

If ACRAA were to obtain such a property, the first thing we would do is establish an outpost research station – and begin collection of baseline data with regards to current carbon storage in vegetation and soil. Our connections with university and college environmental programs by this time will be beneficial. We would also start a tree nursery, which would of course include the installation of a well and water system; here as throughout this region there is essentially unlimited fresh water only 40 to 60 meters below the surface [1].

Next, working with indigenous and non-indigenous people knowledgeable about the forest, as well as forest professionals and scientists, we will plan and begin to initiate the establishment of tree cover. Some areas will be designated for native forest reserve (tied into existing reserve areas if present and forming corridors), and others for agroforestry development. We would also start the construction of what would become several simple dwellings – and search for individuals and families that could move there and participate in the establishment of a small community [2]. Some dwellings would also be designated for professional staff and technicians, as well as student and instructor housing. We would need a larger building for meetings and lectures as well. We also feel that at some point it would be important that individuals or families be given tenure of a small allotment, perhaps one to three hectares, to manage as their own – and with them reaping the benefits (but with ACRAA’s help and following our guidelines). ACRAA would subsidize these families by providing employment. The work would involve the many reforestation, agroforestry and research assistant activities required by this initiative.

We believe such a model system could be economically viable. Outside of very gratefully received donations from a wide range of potential donors, three important revenue-generating tools are, or will be, available to make this possible.

Revenue-Generating Tools

Selling Carbon Sequestration and Storage Credits

There is now a well-developed global carbon offset market, and any company or individual can purchase these credits to offset their C-footprint and support projects similar to ACRAA’s model farm initiative; an organization called Gold Standard is one example [3]. In order to receive funding projects must first be approved by such the organization, however – the revenue is there and available now and these credits will likely only increase in value.

Based on data presented by Sullivan et al. (2017)[4], it is not unreasonable to assume that mature forest in the Alter do Chão area can store 150 Mg C/ha [5]. Using a 100 ha as an example, if we assume it is possible to sequester one third of that value (50 Mg ha-1) in ten years [6] (above the initial baseline level) – and given the fairtrade minimum price of 15 US dollars per tonne C for eligible forest management projects (GoldStandard.org)[7] – there is the potential to generate 75,000 US dollars in revenue over this period. This is substantial. Note also that some forest management-related C-offset credits are selling for as much as $45/tonne on GoldStandard.org. Perhaps carbon sequestration and storage must be looked at as a competing crop on such lands now.

A Venue/Outdoor Laboratory for our Reforestation Tourism and Reforestation Field School Initiatives

Following from the work ACRAA intends to do over the next several years building an education and resource center in Alter do Chão, and the development of reforestation tourism and a reforestation field school, the eventual acquisition of agricultural land, such as soya acreage – will be essential. This because, although our work on the Ilha do Amor and within the community will continue, we will need initially un-forested land to expand opportunities for our students and clients.

We believe there are many college and university environmental programs that would be eager to offer their students such an opportunity, and there certainly are armies of potential tourists. On this later point, and again using Sweden as an example – prior to the pandemic around 300,000 tourists [8] from this country alone went to Thailand each year to escape the winter [9]. And that’s just Swedes visiting Thailand.

The revenues here would come from the tuition and fees associated with participation in our programs and use of our facilities. But there would always be slots available free of charge for local students.

Developing High-Value Export Crops

In the longer term the economic viability of our model farm will be greatly improved if we produce high-value crops for domestic and international markets, such as cocoa, as used in the production of Alter Eco chocolate [10], or specialty Amazonia oils and butters, as produced by Gota Amazonica [11] – to provide two examples. We will be able to say and demonstrate that these products are sustainably grown, so they will fetch a premium. And future partnerships with companies such as these would also be welcome.

It will be noted here also that in addition to the revenues generated from such crops there is another reason the cultivation of products for national and international markets is important. This because there could be some push-back from the agricultural sector if all we wanted to do was just “reforest” agricultural land. Our system will contribute to Brazil’s productive capacity and GDP, and we hope in a meaningful way.

References

[1] Underlaying the entire region is the Alter do Chão Aquifer, usually at a depth of no more than 40 to 60 meters. This is the largest freshwater aquifer in the world by volume. See here.

[2] It is a goal that those that work this land will also live there, although any existing rural family homesteads/communities in close proximity (walking or cycling distance preferably) would be included in our planning and possibly also programs and employment. Likewise, would farm workers previously employed by the ranch or farm.

[3] Gold Standard – see here

[4] https://www.nature.com/articles/srep39102

[5] We will assume our agroforestry system will sequester the same, and this will be a goal.

[6] Using fast growing early successional tree species, which will also provide protective cover for our other plantings.

[7] https://www.goldstandard.org/blog-item/carbon-pricing-what-carbon-credit-worth

[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_Thailand

[9] It is also fortuitous that the coldest months in the north, January and February, are good months to do shoreline restoration work in Alter do Chão, as water levels are still relatively low. It is also the best time to plant elsewhere, as this period is at the onset of the rainy season.

[10] https://www.alterecofoods.com/pages/about. The name similarity with Alter do Chão is a coincidence.

[11] https://gotaamazonica.com.br/en/amazon-vegetable-oils-and-butters/?noredirect=en_US

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