Keeping Focus on Regenerative Supply Chains, NCG Moves Co+op Forest Program to Brazil
Saint Paul, MN – In its ninth year, National Co+op Grocers’ (NCG) Co+op Forest carbon offset program continues to breathe fresh air into the environmentally and socially strained tropical supply chain, this year with an investment in farmer training and climate solutions in Brazil.
NCG — the national chain of community-owned, cooperative grocery stores — reports that as a result of its Co+op Forest program, 1.8 million trees have been planted and/or protected by fair trade farmer co-ops in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest since in 2012. The farmers, who grow cacao that is part of food co-ops’ chocolate supply chain, have also used the funds to implement agroforestry methods, plan for retirement and improve quality of life for their communities.
Now, with the Peruvian project drawing to a close, NCG is expanding its impact by moving the focus of Co+op Forest to Brazil where they will join international partner PUR Projet and the French National Forestry Office (ONF) in funding an established farmer training and reforestation project at the Fazenda São Nicolau in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil.
“As some of the first grocers to offer natural, organic and zero waste or ‘bulk’ foods, NCG’s member food co-ops have long been ahead of the curve when it comes to environmental and social responsibility,” said C.E. Pugh, Chief Executive Officer for NCG. “Co+op Forest is a great example of food co-ops’ early and ongoing investment in climate solutions and leadership on social justice within our supply chain — first in Peru and now in Brazil. We are proud of all that our farmer partners have accomplished and look forward to continuing to find ways to make our supply chains more regenerative and equitable.”
Even as the world struggles with the devastating effects of the climate crisis, deforestation increased 43% in Brazil’s rainforests in the past year, reaching a 12-year high. The Fazenda São Nicolau project is focused on reclaiming these landscapes and training farmers across the Amazonian region how to regenerate the native forests and implement agroforestry and silvopasture techniques to sequester more carbon. It is the first forestry project in Brazil to be verified and certified by the global Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and soon, the SocialCarbon Standard, a designation that indicates the program has co-benefits such as supporting biodiversity and facilitating the participation of local communities.
NCG made an inaugural investment in the project by offsetting 1,000 tons of carbon emissions, the amount the co-op would likely generate in a typical year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many businesses, NCG’s actual carbon emissions were much lower than usual in 2020 due to reduced air travel, but the co-op chose to remain consistent in its annual support for climate mitigation despite the difference. The offsets will fund the planting of more than 3,000 rainforest trees in the year ahead.
“Humans have a vested interest in protecting South American rainforests — they are the ‘lungs of the world,’ and remain critically important to any scenario that sees climate change reversed,” said Allie Mentzer, Senior Director of Advocacy and Sustainability for NCG. “We are grateful to our colleagues at fellow B Corp, PUR Project, for introducing us to Fazenda São Nicolau in Brazil and look forward to continuing to be part of a sustained global effort to support the Amazon rainforest.”
NCG advocacy for climate action supports mitigation strategies that achieve long-term, verifiable carbon sequestration, encourage ecosystem benefits, reduce net pollution, and do not perpetuate environmental racism.
See a full timeline of food co-ops’ investment in Co+op Forest through the years.
National Co+op Grocers (NCG), founded in 1999, is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops located throughout the United States. NCG helps unify food co-ops in order to optimize operational and marketing resources, strengthen purchasing power, and ultimately offer more value to natural food co-op owners and shoppers everywhere. Our 149 member co-ops operate more than 200 storefronts in 38 states with combined annual sales of nearly $2.3 billion. NCG is a winner of the dotCoop Global Awards for Cooperative Excellence and a Certified B Corporation. Find a map of NCG member co-ops. To learn more about co-ops, visit www.grocery.coop.
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