Fauna & Flora International helps Brazilian tobacco farmers to protect forest

FFI experts are working with British American Tobacco (BAT) Brazilian subsidiary Souza Cruz and our local partner SPVS (Society for Wildlife Research and Environmental Education) to understand the process by which the company can develop effective conservation on legislated “setasides” through a pilot site in the tobacco farming landscape of Parana state. Advising farmers in Souza Cruz’s supply chain has been a critical component of the initiative.

On a recent visit to Curitiba by our BAT Biodiversity Partnership Programme Manager, Laura Somerville, to support the on-going analysis of the project with SPVS, interesting results were identified.

“84% of the farmers that we took through the process of mapping their farms for legal zoning in one year have chosen to heed the Partnership’s advice.

These farmers are now well on their way to complying with strict legislation that requires them to set aside 20% of their land for biodiversity maintenance or recolonisation as a ‘forest reserve’ together with the permanent protection of vulnerable elements of the landscape such as all steep slope and water course buffer zones. Water course buffer zones act as natural connectors through landscapes.

This enables them to protect forest in ways that maximise connectivity, thus providing the best chance for conserving biodiversity and ecosystem services through that landscape.”

Araucaria forest in the area is rich in biodiversity but is increasingly fragmented and threatened. Many of the forest remnants survive on small farms in varying degrees of degradation.

So the survival of the threatened species that live in Araucaria forest, such as the red spectacled Amazon parrot, relies on directly engaging farmers in forest protection.

SPVS and FFI’s advice to Souza Cruz and the farmers in their supply chain stemmed from our Biodiversity Risk and Opportunities Assessment (BROA) of the area. The BROA tool is an innovative way to understand how the company is impacting and depending on biodiversity.

BAT, FFI and SPVS are looking to scale up our work in the region and establish economically viable approaches for farmers around biodiversity and ecosystem service maintenance.