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Hydro helps keep an eye on deforestation

As part of Brazil’s “Green Municipalities” program, Hydro is joining a project that will monitor deforestation throughout the Amazon region.

Hydro’s bauxite mining operation in Paragominas signed an agreement June 18 with the Pará State Secretariat of the Green Municipalities Program and environmental organization Imazon to train 90 technicians who will work on the program.

"Our commitment to making society more viable is strong,” says Johnny Undeli, head of Hydro’s Bauxite & Alumina business in Brazil. “Hydro's cooperation with the state of Pará and Imazon covers education and training of technicians to ensure that Pará has the necessary competence to monitor deforestation and thereby contribute to curbing climate change.”

The technicians will come from Pará municipalities that have signed on to the program, which aims to reverse deforestation and develop a stronger and more sustainable economy in the region.

Green municipalities

According to the program, a “green municipality” develops sustainable productive activities with low carbon emissions and a high social and environmental responsibility profile. The program also assures that the environmental developments are continually monitored to help assess progress.

Launched in March 2012 by the Pará government, the program is based on the successful project developed originally in Paragominas, a city which had experienced environmental challenges over the years.

By 2008, Paragominas ranked among the most critical Brazilian cities in terms of deforestation. In order to avoid penalties from the federal government, the city made a strong effort involving the main social actors in a commitment to improve environmental performance. Due to the initiative, Paragominas was the first municipality in Brazil to leave the Brazilian deforestation “black list.”

In order to become a “green municipality,” it is necessary to reduce deforestation, assure compliance with social and environmental legislation, foster the recovery of degraded areas, better use areas already opened and properly manage the native forest.

Action required

Actions taken by a municipality must include: making a local pact with relevant social actors; developing a municipal diagnostic system (environment, land ownership, economic conditions and agricultural/cattle production data); and establishing partnerships (public management, unions, producers, technical institutions, etc).

A Green Municipalities Secretariat was created to manage development of the program, which has been popular with local authorities. Of the 143 municipalities in the state of Pará, 90 have signed on to the program.

The agreement developed with Imazon includes a “technical cooperation agreement” between the Pará state Green Municipalities Secretariat, Hydro Paragominas (Mineraçao Paragominas SA) and Imazon, detailing the objectives and responsibilities related to the training of the technicians and a contract between Hydro Paragominas and Imazon detailing the contribution to the organization to develop the training activities.

Partnership essential

“A partnership like this between Hydro, the state government and Imazon is essential to find answers to the environmental challenges in Pará,” says Paulo Amaral, senior researcher in Imazon.

“The focus of this agreement is to enable the environmental agencies from different municipalities to fight deforestation. Hydro plays a key role in this partnership and contributes in a crucial way for the state of Para to achieve its goals in deforestation control.”

That goal is to reduce deforestation by 80 percent by 2020 and to assure environmental compliance, which would move 16 municipalities off the list of cities in the Amazon region with the worst deforestation levels.

Green Municipalities program representatives will be participating in various events at the United Nations' Rio+20 conference, including a presentation of the program and the signing of a partnership with Fundação Globo for developing video classes on forest management.

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