June 5, 2015 | Brazil holds more than 12% of the world’s fresh water, but citizens in parts of the country – notably Sí£o Paulo – have suffered unprecedented drought this year – in part due to a inability to appreciate the links between forests and water supply. This failure, however, has led to a new appreciation of the interdependent services provided by its vast natural resources: the carbon that its forests retain as they regulate water and thousands of species of plants and hundreds of species of birds and freshwater fish in its Canadian-sized Cerradoamong others.
The Brazil Ecosystem Services Matrix allows users to track ecosystem service programs throughout Brazil.
The country is also home to thousands of programs that use payments for ecosystem services (PES) to finance conservation by recognizing the value of these services. In Brazil, the best-known form of EPS is REDD – an acronym for programs that conserve threatened forests by mobilizing carbon finance to “Reduce emissions from deforestation and degradationbut the most advanced programs are about water – often restoring the forests that regulate waterways.
For such programs to realize their potential, policy makers need to know what works and what doesn’t – but until recently, this information was scattered in isolated pockets across the country. That changed last week when Ecosystem Marketplace publisher Forest Trends unveiled the Brazilian Ecosystem Services Matrix (Matriz Brasileira de Serviços Ecossistíªmicos), with the support of the Brazilian non-profit association Fundo Vale and the Good Energies Foundation. The Matrix is a database of over 2,000 PES programs across Brazil categorized by type: water, carbon, biodiversity, sustainable agriculture, livestock and “multiple”. The “multiple” category refers to those that bundle multiple ecosystem services into a single payment plan or that incorporate the cost of the service into the price of a product such as certified timber.
“The most visible aspect of the matrix is the interactive map, which we call the ‘viewer’,” says Beto Borges, who led the effort at Forest Trends. “We have also summarized the main findings in a brochure entitled “Economic Incentives for Ecosystem Services in Brazil” (Incentivos Econí´micos para Serviços Ecossistíªmicos no Brasil), and we have made them available on a attachwhich you can find if you go to the Matrix home page and click on ‘documentos’, but it’s really huge.”
“It is essential for us to understand that all ecosystem services are interconnected if we want to develop a new and innovative market,” said Mauricio Moura Costa, executive director of Bolsa Verde do Rio, a Brazilian organization promoting market mechanisms for the environmental compliance. at the event. “The concept of the matrix is what distinguishes the work developed by Forest Trends.”
Fundo Vale first contacted Forest Trends after seeing Ecosystem Marketplace Global Matrix, a similar ecosystem markets database, but on a global scale. The two organizations have jointly developed the Brazilian matrix for more than three years, with the support of the Good Energies Foundation.
Beto Borges (left) presents the Brazilian ecosystem services matrix in Sí£o Paulo.
The developers are planning a second phase, which will include working with the Brazilian Biodiversity Fund, a non-profit organization, and possibly government departments as well.
Although intended as a decision-making tool for use in-country, the matrix can also offer people outside the country the opportunity to understand the richness of the country’s programs – not just the few isolated programs that have captured international attention, says Borges.
Answer to a need
The matrix was primarily created to fill knowledge gaps and gain a deeper understanding of ecosystem services and payment mechanisms to protect them. The tool developers intend to address issues such as social benefits, scale, efficiency, challenges and opportunities.
And with Brazil’s vast ecological assets combined with the country’s strong involvement in innovative offset programs, the potential for PES is enormous. In an early proposal document, Borges said these practices – PES – can generate significant investments for a true green economy that changes the existing paradigm that favors development at the expense of the environment.
As the landscape of ecosystem markets is constantly changing, one of the matrix’s ultimate goals is to establish a roadmap for stakeholder engagement, according to the 2012 proposal document – which also outlines the tool. as a “living” database that evolves with the market but is inclusive. analysis can provide stability and direction. The matrix creates a simple and straightforward way to visualize and track global and regional trends in environmental markets in Brazil, the webpage says.
A joint public-private effort
Cristina Maria do Amaral Azevedo, Sí£o Paulo state’s undersecretary for the environment, said the initiative could reduce transaction costs and attract the private sector.
“With government resources alone, it will not be possible to make a public PES policy viable,” she said. “Dialogue and cooperation between the private sector, civil society and governments will provide the answer on how to advance PES in Brazil at scale.”
The information provided by Matrix provides a bridge between the public and private sectors. PES can leverage private funds for conservation in a sustainable way and bridge the funding gap that currently exists, as conservation activities are largely publicly funded. The matrix allows for the healthy progression and integration of compensation schemes into land use strategies and regulatory development, the brochure reads.
the accompanying report was written by environmental researchers Carlos Eduardo Frickmann Young and Leonardo Barcellos de Bakker, who note that the PES is not letting the government off the hook. Instead, they say, it requires a strong environmental policy that supports sustainable development. The government still needs to enforce the protection of protected areas as well as other environmental regulations, they say. The matrix simply makes everyone’s role more visible and transparent.
“The matrix developed by Forest Trends not only speeds up the decision-making process, but also offers an opportunity for convergence between the private sector, the public sector and civil society,” said Walter Lazzarini, President of the Environmental Council. of the FIESP. (Federation of Sí£o Paulo Industries/ Federaçí£o das Indíºstrias do Estado de Sí£o Paulo).
Impact on legislation
The matrix identifies the strengths and weaknesses of existing PES projects while analyzing the synergies between the different entities and the best approaches for them to work together. Comments pouring in regarding the matrix note the growing belief that the tool could influence a more comprehensive national PES law in Brazil. The nation has a existing law which defines ecosystem services and mentions PES.
“The discussion on payments for environmental services has not yet reached consensus in Brazil,” said Francisco Gaetani, executive secretary of the environment ministry. “The Brazilian matrix developed by FT can contribute to the development of a law that is denser, more robust and more likely to succeed, since it reflects the reality of more than 2,000 initiatives on the ground.”