The Verena Project
Promoting large-scale land restoration and reforestation in Brazil with native trees
Researching and investing in native trees is necessary for Brazil to meet its environmental and climate commitments, including its nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement to restore and reforest 12 million hectares (29.6 million acres) by 2030.
Native trees are specifically important for their many benefits, including increased productivity for farming and agribusiness, carbon dioxide removal, job creation and better water quality. Importantly, building an industry around native trees is also a major opportunity to create jobs in rural areas, generate income, protect biodiversity, increase food and water security, improve livelihoods and grow Brazil’s economy.
The Verena Project aims to promote and accelerate the restoration and reforestation of degraded land in Brazil by harnessing the power of native tree species on farms, across pasture and within forests. This specific focus on native species will help Brazil unlock their many benefits, creating a better future for the country.
Verena aims to:
1. Generate, systematize and disseminate knowledge and tools
Verena’s analytical work, ranging from evaluating the market for native forest products to advcaoting for socio-economically responsible investment, makes the case for farmers and investors to invest in native species. The team then applies this analysis to projects that restore land with native trees. More than 30 cases have been analyzed through the VERENA Investment Tool (available in English).
2. Promote research and development (R&D)
Participating in the Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture, Verena partners created a research and development (R&D) program for native trees. Together, they mobilize public and private finance to support a network of researchers and institutions that are filling the knowledge gaps that prevent native trees from becoming a mainstream investment. Their goal is to increase the level of public knowledge, reduce costs, increase tree productivity and improve the quality of tree products.
3. Improve public policies
Much of the current regulation related to native species was designed to prevent illegal logging from natural forests. Sometimes, although unintended, this strict regulation is applied to reforestation with native species. For example, the law forbids people from cutting down native trees or requires them to pay high taxes whenever they do, even if the landowner planted them. Growing native trees on degraded lands should not be compared to logging from natural forests nor be subject to the same restrictive regulation because it is a completely different practice and business: it generates several environmental and social benefits, in addition to economic returns.
Through the coalition, Verena assists governments as they remove barriers to growing native trees at a large scale. The project also incentivizes farmers to plant species that are profitable and attractive to their own bottom line, investors and financial institutions.
4. Mobilize investment
Increasing investment in businesses and projects that grow native trees will require lowering investors’ and farmers’ perception of risk, encouraging the development of innovative financial mechanisms and connecting effective projects with potential investors through platforms like TerraMatch.
To do that, Verena engages investors through Initiative 20x20 and trains and mobilizes financial experts to implement and expand viable projects. This work helps farmers and investors scale up restoration and create viable markets for native forest products.
5. Monitor impact
Investors and project developers need high-quality data to identify priority areas with the greatest potential to restore land with native species. This analysis and data on soil health, carbon removal, erosion reduction, water infiltration and biodiversity can help investors understand the benefits of funding native tree projects in any given area and make the projects as impactful as possible. They can use tools like WRI’s latest satellite monitoring techniques to track their progress and combine that with socio-economic impact data to highlight investment benefits.
For more information about the projects that VERENA supports, read more here in English.