Going Beyond the Fence in the Cerrado biome

20 January 2014 | Article

Establishing a collaborative platform for information exchange and capacity building between business, government, and civil society organisations can strengthen their ongoing actions within specific landscapes to address water scarcity and other natural resource issues in the Cerrado biome. This was the main outcome of a recent workshop hosted by IPÊ - Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (IUCN NGO Member), IUCN, and business partner Nespresso, held in the city of Uberlandia, State of Minas Gerais, Brazil.

The workshop convened coffee farmers and cooperatives, businesses, a government agency and several NGOs actively working on ecosystem issues in the region, with three aims: 1) to better understand common threats to water and soil ecosystem services (ecosystem services are defined as benefits people obtain from ecosystems); 2) to share information about ongoing initiatives being implemented in the region to address these threats; and, 3) to identify potential gaps or opportunities for future action.

Prior to the workshop, IUCN NGO Member IPÊ - Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (Institute for Ecological Research in English) conducted an initial analysis that identified water and soil ecosystem services to be the most important in the coffee producing region of the Cerrado biome, based on high dependence and impact of coffee production on water quality and quantity, and soil productivity. The analysis also identified priority landscapes based on protected areas and areas of high biodiversity value in relation to coffee farm locations, for potential action plans to improve water and soil ecosystem services in the region through strategic restoration and landscape connectivity. IPE subsequently conducted stakeholder interviews with business, government, academia and NGOs actively working on ecosystem issues in the identified landscapes, and who were invited to participate in the workshop.

“In our analysis and during the workshop IPÊ recommended the establishment of a participative cross-sector consortium to develop a regional sustainable land use and restoration plan that balances socio-economic benefits with the maintenance of ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation. This was strongly supported by the workshop participants.”
Mr. Eduardo Ditt, Executive Secretary, Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas

As a starting point, workshop participants agreed for the proposed platform to focus on information exchange and capacity building for the following three main areas: 1) Effective legal compliance with environmental regulations, specifically on placement of conservation set-asides as per the Brazilian Forest Code; 2) Design of Environmental Management Plans including implementation and monitoring, and to consider the landscape context and ecological needs; and, 3) Explore applicability of existing government schemes on Payments for Ecosystem Services, specifically those related to improved land management for water and other ecosystem service benefits.

“A collaborative platform as proposed during the workshop can benefit our member farmers for improved socio-economic and environmental outcomes from their farms and in their landscapes.”
Mr. Edson Guerrero, Technical Coordinator, Cooxupé (a large coffee cooperative in Brazil)

Nespresso has been analysing the ecosystem services that its coffee supply chains depend and impact upon in collaboration with IUCN since 2012. In 2013, this analysis focussed on the current conditions and future trends of ecosystem services important for their coffee supply chains in the State of Minas Gerais in Brazil – a region of strategic importance to the company, and undergoing significant ecosystem changes particularly related to water and climate change.

“Nespresso recognises that we must consider sustainability issues beyond the fences of our supplying coffee farms because unsustainable land use practices around these farms can jeopardise sustainable practices we actively promote within these farms through our AAA Sustainable Quality programme.”
Mr. Guilherme Amado, Green Coffee Project Manager, Nespresso Brasil