Ecosystem services in sugarcane production

28th July 2020

Photo supplied by Raízen

Ecosystem services are the benefits that people take from ecosystems – but they are often taken for granted. Ecosystem approaches are likely to play a big role in the future of agriculture.

If properly managed, the soil system is capable of several ecosystem services such as water and air regulation, erosion control and carbon stock. However, for now, it is not considered as a mechanism for sustainability in agriculture, especially in the sugarcane sector.

Bonsucro is taking part in a project that aims to generate a more concrete understanding of the ecosystem approach in the context of sugarcane production in Brazil. The project, Ecosystem services in sugarcane production, is sponsored by the Earth Innovation Institute. It brings together Forest, Farms and Finance Initiative, Bonsucro, Solidaridad Brazil, Orplana, Socicana and Geoflorestas consultancy – all relevant players in the sugarcane sector. Together these organisations will work together to understand the opportunities and challenges of an ecosystem approach. The project consists of three phases: mapping, analysing and communicating.

The project was launched in April 2020 and phase one was completed in July. During the first phase (mapping), the partners undertook a diagnostic study and produced a report with several maps that show 50 initiatives worldwide that already work with the concept of ‘Payment for Environmental Services’. The report includes classification of these initiatives based on the environmental service provided alongside an executive summary for each one.

The next phase of the project (analysing) is about to start and will use the learning from the report and promote bilateral consultations with specialists to explore opportunities for the sugarcane sector. The outcome of these discussions will appear in a report that will be shared externally at phase three (communicating) once the consultations are finished.