Sao Paulo – December 4, 2023
In a groundbreaking move to combat climate change, Brazil’s national development bank (BNDES) unveiled a $204 million initiative on December 1 to restore and revive the Amazon rainforest. The ambitious Arc of Restoration program aims to rehabilitate 60,000 square km (23,160 square miles) of degraded or destroyed woodland, a landmass nearly equivalent to the size of Latvia, by the year 2030.
Announced during the United Nations COP28 climate summit in Dubai, the BNDES initiative sets forth a comprehensive plan to not only restore the Amazon’s biodiversity but also to capture 1.65 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere by the end of the decade. The Amazon rainforest plays a vital role in mitigating climate change due to its capacity to absorb substantial amounts of planet-warming carbon and serve as the habitat for numerous unique and endangered species.
BNDES President Aloizio Mercadante emphasized the urgency of the initiative, stating, “Avoiding deforestation is no longer the answer to the climate crisis. We need to be more ambitious. Let’s reforest so that the forest regenerates. It’s the cheapest and quickest answer to the climate crisis because it captures carbon and stores it.”
The Arc of Restoration program plans to allocate up to 1 billion reais ($205 million) in funding through 2024. An initial disbursement of 450 million reais is scheduled for this year, signaling the Brazilian government’s commitment to kickstart the restoration efforts.
Brazil’s top climate negotiator hinted at the major restoration initiative in a previous interview, citing the need for a robust and innovative approach. Earth systems scientist Carlos Nobre, known for his theory on the Amazon reaching a tipping point, commended the initiative, stating, “This project has been put in place now because the Amazon is nearing a point of no return, so this is a very important, urgent, and innovative initiative.”
Nobre, often regarded as the godfather of the restoration theory, proposed that rehabilitating approximately “700,000 square km (270,270 square miles)” of the Amazon would help avert the tipping point. He estimated a total cost of at least $20 billion, emphasizing the challenges of funding, technical complexities, and criminal activities hindering such restoration efforts.