The massive deforestation of rain forests in Brazil and beyond has been well documented and rightly condemned, as has the recent slowing down of the rate at which trees are being cut down. While this trend is to be applauded, and the Brazilian government has been heavily involved, we all must play a role in ensuring this positive development gains pace until we reach a point where we are talking about reforestation. This is where we come in.
Carbon Offset LEPAC, an academic programme of the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), aims to aid the recovery of the Atlantic Rain Forest in the Costa Verde municipalities of Paraty and Angra dos Reis.
Our approach is simple. We provide environmental education for micro-, small- and medium-sized companies in Paraty, a city in the southeastern State of Rio de Janeiro. The main goal is to demonstrate to companies their impact on the environment and encourage them to both change their behaviour and offset their greenhouse gas emissions by planting trees.
We meet with these companies to find out exactly how they operate—how many employees they have, how many vehicles they have, how they use them, etc.—in order to build an accurate picture of their carbon footprint before giving an estimate of how many trees they should finance the planting of. We also encourage them to reduce their primary emissions, thus saving them money through efficiencies. By rethinking their processes, they can also market themselves as green and attract a new generation of young, environmentally conscious consumers in Brazil.
Our programme does not just offset emission. During the dry season, roadside forest fires are very common and they are hard to put out. Each year, an average of 100 fires destroys 350 hectares. We plant our trees by the roadside, creating a firewall that operates by shading the dry grass from the sun and the reflected heat from the road. The eight thousand trees we have planted since 2010, working with 20 companies, have reduced fire incidences by 47 per cent.
We believe that companies must develop a culture of sustainable consumption and production to conserve the environment for future generations. We are proud to be playing our part. These sustainable ideas will open minds to new solutions, create new markets and new jobs and, ultimately, improve social conditions within the boundaries of ecosystems.