The Cooperativa dos Produtores Agroextrativistas do Bailique (AmazonBai), located on an archipelago 160 kilometers from Macapá, already holds FSC certification for its açaí field, and also has the first chain-of-custody certification in the world for açaí production. It now adds ecosystem services certification for carbon stock maintenance and biodiversity protection to its certification portfolio.
“Today we have the first FSC-certified açaí management in the world, and the certification of ecosystem services will provide greater visibility,” said Geová Alves, President of the Association of Traditional Communities of Bailique, creator of AmazonBai.
“In addition, our goal is to ensure our contribution to the maintenance of biodiversity in the way we conduct forest management and care for the forests,” he adds.
Ecosystem services are benefits provided directly or indirectly by nature. They range from the purification of air and water, carbon sequestration, and maintenance of fertile soil, to the mitigation of climate-related events that adversely affect society and the economy.
“Managers of forest areas that make the correct use of soil and water resources and preserve biodiversity must be rewarded and recognized for their work, thus creating an economic incentive to the conservation of these valuable resources,” explained Aline Tristão Bernardes, Executive Director of FSC Brazil.
FSC’s procedure “Demonstrating the Impact of Forest Stewardship on Ecosystem Services” came into effect in August 2018. It aims to provide forest owners – whether small producers and communities or large businesses – with tools to measure, verify, and communicate the positive impacts of their operations.
Since 2016, when it obtained its FSC forest management certification, the Bailique region’s açaí production has been gaining strength in national and international markets. In addition to eliminating intermediaries from sales negotiations and exporting its products for the first time in 2017, the cooperative succeeded last year in opening a warehouse and point of sale, Casa do Açaí, which enables them to sell fresh fruit and certified pulp.
Bernardes explained the new ecosystem services certificate will increase the confidence of governments, investors, buyers, and companies, and would enable the community to add value to its image and its products, facilitating access to investments and subsidies.
This process was supported by the Brazil–Germany Cooperation for Sustainable Development, through a partnership between the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment (MMA) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. Implementation was carried out within the scope of the Private Business Action for Biodiversity, as part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI, in German). The German Ministry of the Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the Bundestag.
Junia Karst from Imaflora states that the açaí production strengthens the inclusive community economy, with part of its sales reverted to the family school Escola Família Agroextrativistas do Bailique. “Recognizing the services provided by the application of good management practices is a great step towards the creation of even more value to this process, which guarantees a product free of social and environmental liabilities,” she says.
Initiatives such as AmazonBai are important, particularly considering the insufficient measures taken by the signatory countries to the Paris Agreement to keep the global average temperature rise below 2°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century, as well as the Convention on Biological Diversity parties’ failure to achieve the Aichi Goals.
The management of açaí fields ensures the maintenance of forest cover and, consequently, the conservation of carbon stocks and the preservation of species diversity.