Juma Reserve project in Brazil: Fundação Amazonas Sustentável responds to criticism

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There’s an interesting discussion taking place between the World Rainforest Movement and Fundação Amazonas Sustentável about the Juma Sustainable Development Reserve in Brazil. The discussion so far is posted in full below, in reverse chronological order.

In June 2010, WRM published an article in its bulletin based on Mark Schapiro’s report, “The carbon hunters“. FAS wrote to WRM and Ricardo Carrere, WRM’s International Coordinator, replied in the July issue of WRM’s Bulletin.

Brazil: Follow-up on the Juma REDD project in the Amazon

WRM’s bulletin Nº; 156, July 2010

On 15 July we received a message from the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS) expressing that “the article ‘Brazil: Juma REDD test case in the Amazon’, published at the WRM monthly bulletin issue 155, presents various inaccuracies regarding both information and overall understanding of the Bolsa Floresta Program, as well as the Juma REDD Project. Therefore, the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS) sent clarifications to WRM in order to be published at the WRM’s website.”

We have published FAS’s message in full in our website. However, the “clarifications” –posed as a question and answer game- do not clarify much. On the contrary, they basically serve to strengthen what the WRM article said.

Their first clarification asks: “Do Families have additional costs to obtain the benefits from the “Bolsa Floresta Family” Program?” The answer is: “No, they do not. The families withdraw the money when they go to the nearest cities, which they often do every two months. If they wish, they can wait several months and withdraw the money which has been accumulated over the period. For example, if the family goes to the nearest city every six months, then they can withdraw the money accumulated. Thus, there is no need to the family to go to the city just to withdraw the payment of the “Bolsa Floresta” Program.”

All the above explanation assumes of course that every single family does go at some time to the nearest city and that none of them really need the money on a monthly basis for their livelihood needs. Both assumptions are questionable. However, our article simply said that “for residents like Dalvina Almeida, it takes a two-day roundtrip journey by boat just to receive their 28 monthly dollars.” We never mentioned any “additional costs”. Interestingly enough, the response confirms that local people are forced to go to town to receive their money.

FAS explains that “The Bolsa Floresta Program is not a welfare program. The “family” component within the Bolsa Floresta Program IS NOT MEANT to provide all needed resources to keep and improve the life of the community residents. The concept of this cash payment is that it is a reward, a short-run return to the families which have agreed on zero-deforestation [emphasis added] commitment.”

The above is in clear contradiction with point 4 of FAS’s response, which asks: “Are the participants of the Bolsa Floresta Program forbidden to plant crops and to maintain their agriculture practices? No, they are not. The participants of the “Bolsa Floresta” Program are allowed to keep their traditional agriculture practices on secondary forests as they are used to do. They have a formal commitment not to cut primary forests.”

That seems to imply that “participants” –who formally commit to not cutting primary forests- are allowed to cut down secondary forests in order to maintain their traditional agriculture practices. Even though WRM can support that approach, it contradicts FAS’s own stated commitment to “zero-deforestation”, because cutting down secondary forests is also a form of deforestation. It is also in contradiction with the testimony of a local person (mentioned as Dalvina Almeida’s husband in our article) who said “When this became a reserve they told us that we could no longer plant in the forest.”

The second question posed by FAS is: “Is the monthly payment of BRL 50.00 [US$28] the only benefit provided by the Bolsa Floresta Program? No, it is not. The “Bolsa Floresta Family” is just one of the four components of the whole Program.” The other 3 components are:

  • “Bolsa Floresta” Income (BFI), “which invests annually about BRL 4,000 [US$2270] per community …”
  • “Bolsa Floresta” Social (BFS) “which invests annually about BRL 4,000 [US$2270] per community in order to improve education, health, transportation, and communications .”
  • “Bolsa Floresta” Association (BFA) “which provides support to local organizations …” [no monetary figure is provided in FAS’s “clarification”]

The above means that families only receive –as stated in our article- “US$ 28 per month [that] represents US$ 0.93 per day.” The WRM article stressed that “For an average rural family of at least 5 people the per capita income drops to US$ 0.18 per day. It would be good to inform the Juma Project managers and funders that this meagre payment is well below the poverty line, estimated by the World Bank as people earning less than 1.25 US dollars per day.”

The money invested annually in communities –some 2270 US dollars in BFI and the same amount in BFS- is equivalent to monthly payments of US$190 in each case. Clearly very little for BFS’s stated aim of “improving education, health, transportation, and communications.”

Additionally, no figures are provided regarding how many people live in each community, thus making the amount mentioned almost meaningless.

After showing the amount of money received by families, the WRM article compared those sums with the “US$ 25,000 per month payment received by the Juma Project foundation director.” The FAS response on this is a new question: “Is the salary of the FAS’s CEO over the market?”

That is clearly not the right question, because WRM never said that the salary was “over the market”. We only mentioned the sum of money. The adequate response would have been: “No, the FAS CEO’s salary is US$1000” or whatever amount the person receives.

FAS’s answer to that question is fascinating though clearly not an answer at all. It says:

“No, it is not. The value published by the WRM is nonsense and it is obviously incorrect. The salary of FAS’s CEO, according to a survey by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, considering the major Brazilian NGOs, requested by WWF, is 5% less than the national average. In addition, the costs of FAS with human resources are also lower than the national average considering the Brazilian NGOs as well.”

May we ask a very simple question -just to know how nonsensical and incorrect WRM’s article was on this issue: How much does this person earn?

Another question raised by FAS was: “Will the conservation of such forests allow polluters to continue to emit carbon due to fossil fuel use?”

That question is related to the last paragraph of WRM’s article, which stated: “What makes matters even worse is that the preservation of this forest will allow polluters to continue emitting fossil fuel-related carbon. This means that the inclusion of the Juma forest into emissions trading will in fact contribute to climate change, because it will allow polluting corporations and rich countries claim that they are ‘offsetting’ their carbon emissions by conserving a patch of forest in Brazil.”

FAS’s answer is: “No, it will not. The conception of the offsetting initiative proposed by FAS is that the major effort on emission reduction should be made by the developed countries and their industries. Our vision comprehends that offsetting must be limited to a small part (e.g., 10%) of the overall emission reduction targets of such countries and industries. Therefore, the most of part of emission reduction is on consumption patterns and improvement on production systems.”

According to the above the “offsetting initiative proposed by FAS” will “be limited to a small part (e.g., 10%) of the overall emission reduction targets of such countries and industries.” Which means that FAS is proposing offsets for a 10% reduction, thus allowing –as said in the WRM article- “polluters to continue emitting fossil fuel-related carbon.” And may we remind FAS that that 10% is not a “small part” of emissions.

The second paragraph of the response is yet more illustrating: “The offsetting shall be also seen as an opportunity to all economic sectors in developed countries, as the hotels’ one, in order to be summed to a global effort on reducing greenhouse gases emissions. Within that context, innovative projects, such as the Juma Project, provide opportunities to the guests of Marriott International to offset their personal carbon footprint.”

FAS should know that you cannot “offset” a ton of carbon emitted through the use of fossil fuels. Once emitted, it simply increases the carbon pool in the atmosphere. The Juma project is supposed to be aimed at avoiding emissions from deforestation and not at providing “opportunities to the guests of Marriott International to offset their personal carbon footprint.” However, the response simply confirms that what the WRM article said is correct.

The last part of FAS’s response is much less diplomatic. They say that “it is not worth to pay attention to a catchpenny article” and they add: “We shall also pay attention on how this article has been used by people and institutions that have political and institutional motivations against the “Bolsa Floresta” Program.”

So please everyone be careful with how you use this article, because FAS will be watching you!

Ricardo Carrere
WRM International Coordinator

From: FAS
To: wrm@wrm.org.uy
Cc: teresap@wrm.org.uy
Sent: Thursday, July 15, 2010 11:27 AM
Subject: FAS position about WRM article – Urgente

Manaus, July 15th, 2010

Unfortunately, the article “Brazil: Juma REDD test case in the Amazon”, published at the WRM monthly bulletin issue 155, presents various inaccuracies regarding both information and overall understanding of the Bolsa Floresta Program, as well as the Juma REDD Project.

Therefore, the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS) sent clarifications to WRM in order to be published at the WRM’s website. We reproduce the referred clarifications below:

1. Do Families have additional costs to obtain the benefits from the “Bolsa Floresta Family” Program?

No, they do not. The families withdraw the money when they go to the nearest cities, which they often do every two months. If they wish, they can wait several months and withdraw the money which has been accumulated over the period. For example, if the family goes to the nearest city every six months, then they can withdraw the money accumulated. Thus, there is no need to the family to go to the city just to withdraw the payment of the “Bolsa Floresta” Program.

The Bolsa Floresta Program is not a welfare program. The “family” component within the Bolsa Floresta Program IS NOT MEANT to provide all needed resources to keep and improve the life of the community residents. The concept of this cash payment is that it is a reward, a short-run return to the families which have agreed on zero-deforestation commitment.

The “Bolsa Floresta Family” provides a monthly payment of BRL 50.00 to the families’ mothers who live in the Protected Areas supported by the Bolsa Floresta Program and who have agreed to engage in environmental conservation and sustainable development.

It is a good approach in order to engage local populations in activities to hinder deforestation.

2. Is the monthly payment of BRL 50.00 the only benefit provided by the Bolsa
Floresta Program?

No, it is not. The “Bolsa Floresta Family” is just one of the four components of the whole Program. The strategy to increase locals’ income is focused on the “Bolsa Floresta” Income, which invests annually about BRL 4,000 per community (about BRL 140,000 for each Protected Area per year). The Program has been established over 15 reserves (Protected Areas), and the Juma Reserve is one of them. This type of investment has already increased the overall income within the Juma Reserve, e.g. Brazil nut production – the price was increased from BRL 4.00 to BRL 12.00 per Brazil nut’s can.

Another component under the Program is the “Bolsa Floresta” Social which invests annually about BRL 4,000 per community (BRL 140,000 for each Protected Area yearly), in order to improve education, health, transportation, and communications. Finally, the Program also has the “Bolsa Floresta” Association which provides support to local organizations, e.g. logistic (barges, solar panels, Internet, computers, and general supplies). That is a key-element to support local leaders to ensure and promote the community residents’ rights.

3. Is there any support program to the Bolsa Floresta Program?

Yes, there is. The Bolsa Floresta Program is complemented by five support programs which aim at implementing structuring initiatives to the Program in order to provide permanent changes: (1) Support to sustainable production; (2) Support to health and education; (3) Surveillance and Monitoring; (4) Protected Areas Management; (5) Support for the scientific development.

The Conservation and Sustainability Center “Samuel Benchimol”, built in the Juma Reserve, for instance, was funded by a support program investment. This Center was built with resources provided by the Juma REDD Project. The Center’s infrastructure includes a school, a health-care center, and accommodations for students and teachers. Thus, the school in the Juma Reserve has become a showcase for environmental education and sustainability in the Amazon.

4. Are the participants of the Bolsa Floresta Program forbidden to plant crops and to maintain their agriculture practices?

No, they are not. The participants of the “Bolsa Floresta” Program are allowed to keep their traditional agriculture practices on secondary forests as they are used to do. They have a formal commitment not to cut primary forests. The Program is investing on innovative technologies for sustainable agriculture production and also on capacity building (e.g., permaculture, which aims at diminishing the need of new deforested areas).

5. Will the conservation of such forests allow polluters to continue to emit carbon due to fossil fuel use?

No, it will not. The conception of the offsetting initiative proposed by FAS is that the major effort on emission reduction should be made by the developed countries and their industries. Our vision comprehends that offsetting must be limited to a small part (e.g., 10%) of the overall emission reduction targets of such countries and industries. Therefore, the most of part of emission reduction is on consumption patterns and improvement on production systems.

The offsetting shall be also seen as an opportunity to all economic sectors in developed countries, as the hotels’one, in order to be summed to a global effort on reducing greenhouse gases emissions. Within that context, innovative projects, such as the Juma Project, provide opportunities to the guests of Marriott International to offset their personal carbon footprint. Moreover, Marriott International has several programs to reduce its own emissions, e.g. improvement on lighting system.

6. What do the residents of the Protected Areas think about the Bolsa Floresta Program?

These investments, according to these residents, are a new and exciting perspective to the local communities’ future.

The president of the Agroextractivist Association of the Uatumã Reserve, Sebastião Salomão, states about the investments of the Bolsa Floresta Program the following: “In the Uatumã Reserve a school was built, boats were bought to help local people on emergency situation, regarding income generation we are working with netted tanks for aquaculture, and the `Bolsa Floresta` Family has improved local life quality a lot”.

The Juma Reserve President, Doracy Paes, states that “the Bolsa Floresta has many benefits, and for us it is a step toward a better future because we can have an additional income. Bolsa Floresta has brought hope of a better tomorrow not only to Juma, but for all Amazonas, because we are going to preserve and this preservation is a world legacy”.

To listen to many other testimonials, access FAS’s website (www.fas-amazonas.org/), Vozes da Floresta (in Portuguese), or at the YouTube website (www.youtube.com/fasamazonas/).

7. Is the salary of the FAS’s CEO over the market?

No, it is not. The value published by the WRM is nonsense and it is obviously incorrect. The salary of FAS’s CEO, according to a survey by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, considering the major Brazilian NGOs, requested by WWF, is 5% less than the national average. In addition, the costs of FAS with human resources are also lower than the national average considering the Brazilian NGOs as well. Regarding the 2009 budget, 91% was collected from private partners and only 9.3% from the Amazonas State government. The public investment are fully destined to the “Bolsa Floresta” Family – one of the programs performed by FAS.

8. About FAS.

FAS is a privately run, non-governmental, non-profit institution without political ties. The Foundation was created on December 20th, 2007 through a partnership between the Government of the State of Amazonas and Bradesco bank. Its statute / internal rule was previously approved by the State Attorney’s Office. In February 2009, Coca-Cola Company in Brazil also became a partner. Its mission is to promote, through the valorization of environmental services and products, the sustainable involvement, the environmental conservation and the improvement of life quality of the communities dwelling in Protected Areas in the State of Amazonas, which all together represent more than 16 million hectares. FAS’s priority is to implement the “Bolsa Floresta” Program, which is the first internationally certified Project in Brazil that rewards the local populations by maintaining the environmental services rendered by the forests. For more information, please visit our website: www.fas-amazonas.org/.

FAS has as institutional culture to seek for excellence on efficiency, ethics, and transparency on financial resource management. All financial statements are audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the most respect consultants in the world. All auditing reports, after being analyzed by FAS’s Fiscal Board, are submitted to FAS’s Administration Board followed by the legal verification performed by the State Attorney’s Office. Such severity reflects FAS’s vision about the goal to be both a national and an international reference on transparency and high-quality management of resources aimed at socio-environmental programs within tropical regions.

It is also important to remind that the Juma Reserve and its Bolsa Floresta Program were already visited by 16 Brazilian journalists and other 15 foreign journalists. ALL journalists have published positive news and papers – except one. And this only one, for unknown reason, had received mistaken information, had misunderstood the Juma REDD Project and also the Bolsa Floresta Program, which has come up an article based on wrong presuppositions. And, as aforementioned, all these misinformation were fully corrected by FAS.

Thus, we believe it is not worth to pay attention to a catchpenny article and then discredit what have been done by other 30 journalists (national and international). It would be an enormous disrespect to these 30 journalists and their newspapers and magazines. We shall also pay attention on how this article has been used by people and institutions that have political and institutional motivations against the “Bolsa Floresta” Program.

FAS is always available in order to clarify doubts and to show the facts on the “Bolsa Floresta” Program and the Juma REDD Project. To whom it may concern, besides this political vision, follows FAS contacts below:

Head-office – Manaus: Rua Álvaro Braga, 351, Parque Dez de Novembro.Tel: (92) 4009-8900. Office – São Paulo: Rua Pequetita, 145 CJ 22, Vila Olímpia. Tel: (11) 4506-2900. emails: comunicacao@fas-amazonas.org e ouvidoria@fas-amazonas.org.

Brazil: Juma REDD test case in the Amazon

At present, the initiative for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is rather a collection of proposals and some pilot schemes. However, it is being strongly pushed and at a remarkable speed inside as well as outside the United Nations process, with the aim of including carbon forest in the array of mechanisms for carbon permits and carbon offsets.

Over the past two years, national proposals and plans for REDD projects have proliferated involving governments, multilateral organizations, big NGOs and corporations. The World Bank and northern governments including Norway, Australia and Great Britain have created a large fund of some $800 million to finance REDD projects.

In Brazil, the Juma Sustainable Development Reserve Project, in the south-eastern corner of the state of Amazonas, in the municipality of Novo Aripuanã, is the first Brazilian implemented project involving REDD and has received the validation to the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Standards (CCBS) in Brazil, issued by the German audit company Tüv Süd.

The REDD test case of the Juma Sustainable Development Reserve covers a forest area of 589,612 hectares and announces that it will avoid the degradation of around 366,151 hectares of tropical rainforest from the total area and the emission of 210,885,604 million tones of CO2 into the atmosphere by 2050. The project promises to pay local families an allowance for conserving the forest untouched.

The money for the project comes from the Brazilian NGO the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (ASF), which manages the reserve with funds donated from the provincial government, the Brazilian private Bradesco Bank and the big multinational hotel chain Marriott International. Hotel guests worldwide are invited to donate $1 per night to the Juma fund as a way to voluntarily offset the calculated emissions from their individual hotel stay – the hotel’s website announces: “Ten dollars will offset the carbon for your next ten roomnights at Marriott hotels and is tax deductible for U.S. taxpayers” (1).

Another financial source for the Juma project is the prospective sale of carbon credits for the CO2 emissions avoided by not deforesting the reserve in the voluntary carbon market of emissions compensation, which according to the project (2) is being developed in partnership with Marriott International. For a big corporation like the Marriott Hotel Group, the project might well be very useful as a “green” public relations exercise.

The Juma project claims it benefits local communities with direct payment through the programme “Bolsa Floresta” – an allowance for the 339 families living in 35 communities in the area, who will be remunerated to protect the rainforest by receiving roughly US$ 28 on a monthly basis transferred through a debit card issued to the wife.

A contract signed by each family head binds them not to cut or burn the trees, which will be supervised by regular inspections. In case of deforestation, the government will stop the allowance.

The Center for Investigative Reporting Frontline wanted to have their own look at this project which is being hoisted around the world as a model way to halt tropical deforestation. So they conducted a field trip by Mark Schapiro (3) who found that for residents like Dalvina Almeida, it takes a two-day roundtrip journey by boat just to receive their 28 monthly dollars. The report quotes Dalvina’s husband saying ‘We used to plant a lot. When this became a reserve they told us that we could no longer plant in the forest. Everyone signed up for Bolsa Floresta. But Bolsa Floresta can’t sustain my family.”

The allowance of US$ 28 per month represents US$ 0.93 per day. For an average rural family of at least 5 people the per capita income drops to US$ 0.18 per day. It would be good to inform the Juma Project managers and funders that this meagre payment is well below the poverty line, estimated by the World Bank as people earning less than 1.25 US dollars per day. Such a pittance becomes scandalous when compared to the US$ 25,000 per month payment that is said the Juma Project foundation director receives.

Additionally, it is important to highlight that local communities that have until now obtained their means of livelihood from the forest will loose most of those resources as a result of the Juma reserve.

Schapiro comments in his report that “some farming families have lost a significant portion of their income when required to shift their food-growing activities from primary to secondary forests, and that the roughly $25 ‘Bolsa Floresta’ stipend has not significantly made up for the short-fall.”

What makes matters even worse is that the preservation of this forest will allow polluters to continue emitting fossil fuel-related carbon. This means that the inclusion of the Juma forest into emissions trading will in fact contribute to climate change, because it will allow polluting corporations and rich countries claim that they are “offsetting” their carbon emissions by conserving a patch of forest in Brazil. Were it not because the World Bank strongly supports emissions trading, its economists would define the Juma project as a “lose-lose situation” for climate and people. But of course they won’t.

(1) https://www.marriott.com/green-brazilian-rainforest.mi
(2) “The Juma Sustainable Development Reserve Project: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Deforestation in the State of Amazonas, Brazil,” Project Design Document for validation at “Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA),” 29/09/2008, http://unfccc.int/files/methods_science/redd/application/pdf/pdd_juma_reserve_red_project_v5.0.pdf
(3)“The Carbon Hunters,” Carbon Watch, reported by Mark Schapiro, produced by Andres Cediel, http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/carbonwatch/2010/05/the-carbon-hunters.htm

Source: WRM’s bulletin Nº; 155, June 2010

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3 Comments

  1. Awesome arguing skills…the sophists would be proud.
    The forests and the climate of the world might not.

    An emitted tonne of carbon, seems to me, is actually offset if it is either absorbed by a forest or not emitted because a forest was not cut and burnt…both present destinies that WRM would applaud…one would think…please stop fighting amongst yourselves.

  2. The funny thing is, both miss the point.

    I prefer staying anonymous but I did research in Juma itself.

    WRM is wrong about central parts. It does not cost the people more to go to the city, they all go anyway at some point of time, the 50 BRL are never meant to provide the families with suffiecent income, they have always and will always plant to make their living, cutting down secondary forest is NOT DEFORESTATION.

    Everyone who really field-worked in the Amazon knows that these “Capoeira” forests grow rapidly and are only to serve the soil with new nutrients. they have low carbon or biodiversity value. Counting them as “Deforestation” is a misleading argument.

    Still there is not everything too perfect about Bolsa Floresta, the FAS would be well advised to check their own business on the ground and actually talk to the community representatives more. Many things dont work as they should. FAS does have a nice media image. But sooner or later, you have to deliver or someone will come and tear-off the charade.

    I dont want to go into more details here…

  3. Mauricio Silva

    This project from FAS in the Juma Reserve, State of Amazonas, Brazil,is the best example of how dealers/brokers can get MUCH more than forest people, those who really save the forest.

    It is so easy to earn millions, tell the world you are saving billions of trees and helping thousands of people, but, at the end of the day, the forest dwellers receive peanuts and you travel all around the world on 1st class, live in a nice and fancy house, have a sofisticate office, give back the forest people peanuts and decide what these people must do to get the money.

    FAS is a broker, control the full system they put in place, control the communities, sell carbon credits and earn millions. And, as WRM says, its director has a salary comparable to business CEO, something about what 500 families earn per month. To make it even worse, FAS is now getting money from oil exploitation in the Amazon region.

    If this is what REDD is about, I am sorry, but REDD will collapse. And it should. REDD shall bring benefit to those who protect the forest. Not to brokers.

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