Climate Smart Agriculture Sourcebook

Climate-smart forestry

Production and Resources

Clean Development Mechanismvi  incentive programmes, such as those proposed for the charcoal-based pig iron and steel industries in Brazil, recognize the greenhouse gas benefits of sustainable woodfuel and charcoal production, and provide support for projects that increase those benefits and promote overall project sustainability.

Clean Development Mechanism initiatives in Brazil have delivered a number of benefits including increased carbon sequestration and concomitant greenhouse gas reductions through afforestation; and the replacement of unsustainable and non-renewable fuels with sustainable bioenergy to power one of Brazil’s major industrial sectors. Incentives to produce sustainable woodfuels should also help curb woodfuel deficits and help industries become self-sufficient in their energy needs.

Under a sustainable management regime, the use of charcoal in pig iron and steel production can offset greenhouse gas emissions that would otherwise occur if the steel were produced using fossil fuels. In one Clean Development Mechanism initiative, funds from the sale of carbon credits are being used to encourage sustainable charcoal production at the mills of a pig iron producer, Plantar, in Minas Gerais.

The Plantar project, funded largely through the World Bank Prototype Carbon Fund, involves the planting of over 23 000 ha of high-yielding clonal Eucalyptus trees. These plantations, which have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, will be harvested sustainably and converted to charcoal to provide energy for the pig iron industry. In addition to certified plantations, Plantar will also initiate a pilot project for landscape-scale biodiversity management involving the regeneration of native vegetation in areas previously covered by plantations. It is estimated that, over a 28-year period, the project has the capacity to offset 12 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions that would otherwise be produced from fossil fuels. 

Similar initiatives are being developed elsewhere, including a project by Vallourec Tubos do Brasil , the only steel-pipe manufacturer in the world to use 100 percent renewable energy for the production of pig iron and steel. Its forestry division produces all the charcoal required to fuel its mills from 120 000 ha of plantation forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. It is estimated that, over the next 27 years, this initiative will offset 45 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions that would otherwise be produced from fossil fuels. 

Source: FAO (2009b).