Linking sustainable production and enhanced landscape governance in the Amazon: Towards territorial certification (TerraCert)

Photo: Kate Evans (CIFOR)

Project description

TerraCert provided knowledge to support public and private actors in the transition toward more sustainable beef cattle and agricultural production through enhanced landscape governance in  Paragominas, State of Pará, in the Brazilian Amazon. TerraCert aimed to integrate more adapted and eco-efficient production options within the cattle and agricultural sectors to improve land management; support the development of transparent monitoring frameworks to assess and verify progress towards territorial sustainability in the municipal jurisdiction; and foster institutional arrangements between public and private actors that embrace territorial or jurisdictional approaches. Ultimately, building upon successful efforts to reduce deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions in Eastern Amazon, this project worked with partners to develop technical and institutional options to facilitate the uptake of production and management practices that stimulate the improvement of territorial performance. In doing so, it sought to increase the attractiveness of the territory to private investments and guide public investments that contribute to the achievement of concerted goals.

During the life of the project (2015-2017), the technological options, monitoring frameworks and tools, and public and private institutional arrangements informed ongoing efforts and aimed to trigger new initiatives for enhancing landscape management in five additional municipalities in southern Pará. The project also facilitated knowledge exchange between local stakeholders and public agencies at state and federal levels, as well as business platforms and initiatives supporting sustainability in the Brazilian Amazon.

The vision is that territorial or jurisdictional approaches is a key part of governance frameworks, monitoring and certification systems, and investment models in the Amazon. 

The Paragominas municipality covers 1.9 million hectares, which is comprised of about 1.1 million hectares of forest that will be protected and 0.8 million hectares of agricultural lands that will benefit from improved cattle ranching and agricultural systems. The potential for expanding in southern Para State is 4.2 million hectares of forests and 2.6 million hectares of agricultural lands. These areas represent the entire area under livestock and forest land uses in each municipality targeted. Direct engagement in participatory action research with municipalities' agricultural and environmental decision makers, linked to state and federal level public agencies, supports adjustments in jurisdictional policy.

The project:

1) Assesses the strengths and limits of the "Green Municipality" model to reduce deforestation and support low-carbon cattle ranching in the context of broader public-private arrangements to more sustainable agriculture, and engages in dialogues for enhancing institutional arrangements.

2) Conducts trials with farmers to improve the economic and technical performance of different production systems, and assesses their potential to support sustainable ranching and more integrated production systems, which will help realize both food security and climate change mitigation targets.

3) Establishes a monitoring system to assess territorial dynamics with a focus on land use change, production efficiency, ecosystem services, and socio-economic benefits, to advance tools with potential to establish a transparent framework to assessing and verifying territorial sustainability.

In total, this project aimed to reduce carbon emissions by 50% in the areas embraced by the project in the municipality of Paragominas, as result of the uptake of improved land use and management practices for low-carbon cattle ranching systems and more integrated and fire-free production systems. In addition, the project aimed to reduce emissions by 30% in five additional municipalities located in southern Para by informing policy dialogues and linking with other ongoing initiatives in those municipalities.

In 2017, TerraCert: 1) Expanded the production of legumes seeds and plants through the establishment of three multiplication areas; 2) Trained students and employees working in the farms, all year round; 3) Improved a monitoring database in collaboration with EMBRAPA in support of a program of micro-zoning embraced by the Municipality of Paragominas; and 4) Established links with IMAZON, and IDH in order to support the development of a jurisdictional pilot project in Paragominas.


Papers and briefs:

Blogs and brochures:

Conference panels:


Cattle ranching in Brazil is an activity predominantly done by men. Still, this project strived to achieve a positive impact for women and households by promoting social inclusion for all vulnerable groups, including women, under territorial approaches. Throughout, the project examined responses of different social groups to territorial-based initiatives, ensuring that the initiatives are sensitive to the needs of women, and other social groups, mainly youth.


The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) led the project. CIFOR worked with the French Agricultural Research Center for International Development (CIRAD), the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA), and the Museum Paraense Emilio Goeldi (MPEG). In addition, the project formalized collaborations with Nexus Socio-Ambiental, the municipal government of Paragominas, the Municipal Government of Redenção, the rural producer association of Paragominas, and the rural producer association of Redenção, in the State of Pará, Brazil.

Further information

For further information please contact Julianna White, program manager for CCAFS Low Emissions Development at