Reforestation used for biomass energy is becoming a major driver to combat climate change and desertification. Brazil and US annouced a new agreement for 12 million ha in Brazil, recovering desertified, degraded and deforested lands.

President Dilma Rousseff pledged to restore 12m hectares of deforested land and increase renewable energy use by 2030 as part of climate partnership with the US. President Barack Obama and Dilma Rousseff put climate change at the top of their agenda at their bilateral meeting on Tuesday, with the US and Brazil agreeing to get up to 20% of their electricity from renewable power by 2030.

brasil case

Brazil Deforestation in the Amazon decreased between 2004 and 2012, but between August 2012 and July 2013 it increased by 28%. However, the deforestation, driven in part by loggers turning forest into ranch land for cattle, is still at its second lowest level ever. Photograph: of Maryland

Barack Obama and Dilma Rousseff put climate change at the top of their agenda at their bilateral meeting on Tuesday, with the US and Brazil agreeing to get up to 20% of their electricity from renewable power by 2030.

Brazil also committed to restore up to 12m hectares of forest – an area about the size of England or Pennsylvania – in another attempt to reduce the carbon pollution that causes climate change.

The White House said the initiatives were part of a new US-Brazil climate partnership, loosely modelled on the historic US-China agreement reached during Obama’s visit to Beijing last November, which are intended to build momentum for a global deal to fight climate change in Paris at the end of the year.

The pledge will require the US to triple its production of wind and solar power and other renewable energies. Brazil will need to double its production of clean energy. The figures do not include hydro power.


Deforestation in the Brazlian Amazon, 1988-present 60-70 percent of deforestation in the Amazon results from cattle ranches while the rest mostly results from small-scale subsistence agriculture. Despite the widespread press attention, large-scale farming (i.e. soybeans) currently contributes relatively little to total deforestation in the Amazon. Most soybean cultivation takes place outside the rainforest in the neighboring cerrado grassland ecosystem and in areas that have already been cleared. Logging results in forest degradation but rarely direct deforestation. However, studies have showed a close correlation between logging and future clearing for settlement and farming.




Combating deforestation = less fossil sources and more renewable energy 

The establishment of plantations as a renewable source of energy for industrial needs is  expected to result in a twofold benefit to the climate: (i) generation of carbon stocks and GHG removals by sinks additional to those that would occur in the absence of such plantations, and (ii) use of sustainable sources of biomass in place of fossil fuels and non-renewable biomass to reduce GHG emission in one of Brazil’s major industrial sector, i.e. the iron and steel industry.

Whereas 98.55% of the world’s iron ore reduction in blast furnaces was undertaken using coal  coke, only 0.73% of the global iron production in 2005 used charcoal from renewable biomass  from planted forests supplies as the reducing agent.


What is cheapest carbon? the carbon in the air or the carbon in the soil? We have that answer reforesting for renewable energy to mitigate climate change and make money at the same time. Chart Source: EPA

Both of the above mentioned benefits have been integrated into a single and first-of-a-kind  project under implementation by the project entity, i.e. the establishment of plantations to supply all of its iron production with charcoal from renewable wood supplies instead of GHG intensive reducing agents.


Our taxes, are subsidizing fossil energy, not reforestation or renewable energy. Source: Management Information Services, Inc., Congressional Budget Office, Energy Information Administration.

Can biomass energy be the best way to save the world?

Well, the turth is that until now most companies, foundations and NGOs all over the world say they are trying harder and harder but the can’t offer to ranchers and owners causing deforestation a good viable option that makes more money that their current activity.

In other words, deforestation often makes more money than wood.

But the fact is they still haven’t tried biomass energy since most lobbies and energy companies dominate fossil subsidies and gas is cheaper even causing economic constraints, fossil energy dependance and emissions.

However, biomass growth in last 2 decades was impressive. United States increases its reforestation programs today just because of renewable energy.

Soybean and cattle are the most profitable alternatives but we have clear numbers on it. We are talking about 200-600 U$D/ha each year as gross margins for owners that allow deforestation to happen to make money. Nevertheless, it is possible to sequester carbon at very high rates, replace fossil energy and have all rainforest back again with biodiversity, ecological services, rotations with perennial systems and even organic food from the forest.

So, the truth is humans can make money, reforest degraded areas, replace fossil energy with renewable energy and create rural eployment. Additionally, land use changes criticized before by sensasionalist NGOs supporting fossil energy lobbies become ridiculous since we are talking about areas with low carbon pools in the soil, degraded lands, low competitive farmlands, combat rural poopulation migration to cities while promoting rainforest services, fauna and flora conservation and ecotoursim at the same time. Add to that some carbon negative solutions we have to bury some biochar.

Why not? How it happens? When we start? This has already started and there thousands of projects worldwide. Northern EU countries have shown the way. But questions on deforested tropical areas remain for next 30 years when most countries, like Brazil annouced yesterday, will have to reach very large share of renewable energy in their energy matrix. Same applies to many tropical countries in the world, small islands and areas where it is already clear that renewable energy is cheaper than fossil sources. This is also happening in temperate regions that require green covers, reforestation and afforestation programs.

All the information available, project design and details on the clean development mechanism, is available here.

More on deforestation statistics in Brazil are available here.