Extreme E makes further commitment to Amazon restoration on Amazon Day

To mark Amazon Day, the pioneering electric racing series Extreme E is renewing its commitment to Amazon restoration by expanding its support to its Legacy Programme in Brazil. 

Despite not being able to race in Brazil this year due to Covid restrictions, the sport for purpose championship has continued its vital legacy work with its team, including University of Cambridge Amazon deforestation expert Dr Francisco Oliveira, who is also part of the championship’s Scientific Committee, and the global environmental organisation The Nature Conservancy (TNC). 

Extreme E partnered with TNC to develop its Amazon-based Legacy Programmes which fund native forest restoration and a well-established cacao-based agroforestry programme.

Agroforestry is the practice of growing food crops and native trees together. This approach is ideal for maintaining and regenerating the health of the planet’s soils, capturing carbon and providing habitat for wildlife, while fostering sustainable livelihoods and ensuring long-term agricultural production. Cocoa trees are native to the Amazon Rainforest, making them particularly well-suited for agroforestry in this region. Young cocoa plants need shade and can be grown in forested areas without clearing the land, or planted on previously cleared lands alongside other vegetation to restore native forests.

Extreme E’s funding will enable the expansion of cocoa agroforestry on degraded pasturelands, helping local farmers harvest higher value commodity beans and building sustainable livelihoods for their families. Moreover, Extreme E’s continued contribution to the ongoing maintenance of existing forests will sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and benefit 425 hectares of rainforest, equivalent to an area one third larger than New York’s Central Park (340 hectares). 

Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO of Extreme E, said: “We are so pleased to be part of Amazon Day. At Extreme E, our priority is to give back environmentally to all the regions that we visit in our series and leave them in a better condition than when we arrived.

“Deforestation in Brazil increased by 30% in 2019. These alarming figures represent not only the destruction of vulnerable habitat, but also a steep rise in carbon dioxide levels and, therefore, an increase in global temperature. As a racing series focussed on pioneering sustainability and reducing emissions, I am extremely proud to collaborate with TNC’s Forest Cocoa Project and provide increased support to reforestation.” 

“Even though we aren’t able to race in Brazil this year, this has not taken away our focus from important legacy projects in the Amazon and our continued work with TNC and Dr Francisco Oliveira. I’m really looking forward to being able to travel there in the not-too-distant future to see the fantastic progress with my own eyes."

About twice the size of France, Pará holds nine per cent of the world’s tropical forests – a pristine area four times the size of the United Kingdom – yet, it is known as the ‘arc of deforestation’ as it holds one of the fastest deforestation rates in Brazil. Since 2013, TNC’s Forest Cocoa Project has been providing technical assistance to farmers from the municipalities of São Félix do Xingu and Tucumã to encourage them to grow native cacao trees – the source of chocolate – to reforest degraded lands and to provide a more sustainable source of income. Farmers learn to grow multiple native species in the same area ensuring cocoa trees have the shade and nutrients they need to thrive, while diversifying their crops and making restoration a profitable activity. The project is already on course to expand its support to 300 agroforestry farmers by the end of 2021 and, thanks to Extreme E’s additional support, it will be able to add another 50 cocoa family farmers to the programme.

Idalto Mendes Pereira, a cocoa producer in the region of São Félix do Xingu, Pará, said: “Instead of knocking down trees we are restoring the forest. The revenue from our cocoa harvest last year surpassed what we used to get through cattle ranching. We were doing everything wrong, damaging the environment and getting less money.”

Rodrigo Spuri, Conservation Director of TNC’s Brazil programme, said: ”Pará holds the highest deforestation rate in the Brazilian Amazon, so when we see scientific evidence that we are heading to the Amazon’s tipping point – when big portions of the rainforest would convert to tropical savannah – we need to act fast and develop solutions that can help reverse this scenario. Nature-based solutions – such as the Cocoa Forest agroforestry systems – may provide a third of the world’s solution to climate change. Partners like Extreme E can help us deliver win-win solutions to nature, people and climate."

Dr Francisco Oliveira, Extreme E's Amazon scientist, said: "Amazon Day is a day to reflect on the importance of the largest tropical forest on the planet for the balance of climate on our planet. The Amazon needs everyone's help. We need to put an end to illegal deforestation as soon as possible and also value this huge library of nature with many books and chapters to be written.

“The Amazon is in agony, deforestation has started to grow again, reversing a trend of the last decade, and fire has also intensified, affecting the forests, their biodiversity, their environmental services, and the people who live in and depend on the forest. More and more sectors have mobilised in search of solutions for the economic and social development of this immense region of the planet that values standing forests. 

"This is urgent, there is no more time! We must act as the Amazon needs all of us."

It is expected that through supporting TNC’s forest restoration programme, Extreme E will prevent the release of almost 150,000 kgs of CO2 while benefiting hundreds of families in the municipalities of São Félix do Xingu and Tucumã.