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Viridis Terra provides ecosystem restoration and sustainable management to fight land degradation
On the VatorNews innovation podcast, Steven Loeb and Bambi Francisco Roizen speak to Martin Beaudoin Nadeau, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Viridis Terra, a company that provides ecosystem restoration and sustainable management to fight the global problem of land degradation.
Some highlights from the interview:
- “Usually [we are planting] annual crops, so it can be soybeans or corn. The agroforestry system also includes, during the first three to four years, some of these annual crops that bring revenue very quickly, and they are very important for society so we need to supply these commodities that are now being produced in greater numbers. And then you also have payments for ecosystem services that are received for that, which are linked to the ecological services, meaning the the biodiversity that is created in these new forests and agroforests that a lot of the big clients want to add access to so they can reach their objective of net zero and being nature positive."
- “The platform collects data on financial, carbon, biodiversity, ecological data, and socio-economic data, and we also follow two or three metrics for each of the 17 sustainable development goals. The clients can follow all the progress on the restoration and management activities that are happening in the field directly on the platform through all the monitoring that we do with boats, using satellites, drones, and imagery, but also in field visits that we do for quality control. We support these landholders, so if there are some crops or anything that is lost within the ecosystem, there is support that comes with it to ensure that these new forests and argoforests are well established and create value.”
- “Degraded landscape brings more extreme climatic conditions, because you don't have a natural buffer anymore. So, the places where there is the most degradation are the ones that are most affected by the climate crisis because there are more extremes that come. The drought season is longer because there's no buffer anymore to keep the water there during the rainy season. When you have a storm, you don't have that buffer that protects, the natural infrastructure, as we call it, to protect against those big storms. So, there's a lot more flooding. At the same time, the restoring of the land, that's where it becomes very important for adaptation, because that's where you can protect the water source, you can increase resilience against these big extreme climatic conditions. And so, that's a very important part. We also work with nature, as nature is also affected by climate change, so we need to ensure that we restore while taking into consideration that these increasing climatic extreme conditions are coming in. The big part is, as soon as the ecosystem is well established, usually nature is well made to protect the landscape again against these big climatic conditions.”
- “The new business model that we call IFLR, where we bring private investment to these projects from large corporations and impact investors, we decided to do the showcase in Peru. The main reason why is, first, in the tropics, we can remove carbon and create economic value because there's no winter. Because it's humid, ecosystems can create an impact more quickly. So, the return on investment, the cost benefit, is much higher there. So, that's one of the reasons why we do this project [in Peru], because the value of carbon and biodiversity right now is not high enough to do big restoration projects in Canada, North America or Europe... Peru also was the country that started that movement to restore hundreds of millions of acres of land in 2014 at COP 20, that was in Lima. Cop 20 is the convention on climate change every year where all the governments meet together to negotiate the legislation and other things that we are putting in to fight climate change. So, Peru was the one that started to push that we need to restore these lands as a means to fight climate change. And so, they were a bit more mature in a lot of other countries, with better local partners, both on the NGOs, government, private sector, and also a free trade agreement with US and Canada, which brought protection for foreign investments."
- “Right now we're working more with hundreds [of landowners], but we want to reach thousands within the next three to four years. Where we work is mostly in the Amazonian forests that have been degraded by deforestation, slash and burn forest fires, unsustainable agriculture, unsustainable forest management. So, the land has been degraded by extracting the wood and then afterwards not producing sustainabe agricultural products, which ha led to the degradation of the land that has been abandoned. A lot of this land, nothing is happening right now. It's not used anymore.”
- "[Investors] do not always come to us for the same reason. Some of them want to secure the supply of land and high quality, lasting, and durable nature-based carbon removal to return net zero carbon negative objective in the future, and some of them want to secure a supply of nature positive commodities. For example, companies that need to have access to timber or agrifood products that have a positive impact on nature, sometimes they want to secure that supply in the future. It can also be an impact investor that just wants to have returns on these large projects, that wants to have exposure to the natural capital asset classes."
- “In the past, we were extracting natural resources without thinking about what happened after, which has caused a degradation of over 2 billion hectares, so it's about 6 billion acres in the world of land that used to be productive but now has less productivity and the natural ecosystem has been degraded. These were habitats for a lot of species: by losing their habitat, that's where they started to reduce their populations. So, it's mainly degradation of nature that caused that extinction because we were in a mode of just extracting, instead of managing sustainably. It's important to mention that more than 50% of the GDP in the world is at risk because of the degradation of nature, because our economy is highly linked to natural resources. Right now, we are losing it at a rate that is much faster than what can be regenerated every year. So, it's starting to be some of the biggest risks for the economy, and it also have an impact on people: about 40% of the global population live in a degraded landscape, so it has an impact on their health, on their access to water and food. It's a big crisis that is happening right now. That's why we need to change the way we manage land. So, it's not just about restoring, it's about ensuring sustainable management after that if we want to fix that big problem, where we lost over 70% of all species in North America in the last 50 years.”
- “There's two types of investors we're looking for: the ones at the corporate level, that sector is booming right now. Five years ago, a lot of people thought I was crazy to develop the business model with financial backing; right now, we are probably three to five years ahead of most competition and, potentially, we could become one of the top three in the world in the coming decades with that business model and technological package, so it can be very attractive for an investor that wants to invest at a corporate level. On the project side, the financial sector will be very impacted by climate and climate change and biodiversity loss. So, I would try to convince them to start doing more impact investment, including natural capital assets into their strategy, and start to come work with us. Just put 0.5% of your portfolio into nature based solution projects, you could have a huge impact, while bringing returns to your investors, and also ensuring your impact on nature reaches net zero, or biodiversity gain, by doing these investments. So, we can bring solutions for these financial institutions that want to invest in projects. A corporation that wants to reach net zero carbon or a nature positive objective. So, come see us, come work with us, and transform the natural resource sector and let's transform the financial sector together."
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