It was back in 1998 that Peugeot decided to undertake a vast scientific and ecological sponsorship campaign. Over a period of 40 years they would fully financing an innovative reforestation project in Amazonia with a view to carbon sequestration. It woud be undertaken with the support of the French National Forestry Board (ONF) and was initiated shortly after the signing of the Kyoto protocol.
Shortly afterwards, Peugeot and PSA Group introduced an engine representing a technological breakthrough, the Common Rail HDi diesel engine with a 20% reduction in fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions, and a 50% reduction in regulated pollutant emissions at source. It became the most advanced diesel engine and has sold extensively throughout the world. In 1999 a diesel particulate filter system was introduced as standard fit on the Peugeot 607. Since then, new developments mean all Peugeot engines benefit from advanced technology and ever lower CO2 emissions. Today, Peugeot and the PSA Group is the world's leading low-emissions vehicle producer.
The National Forestry Board ('Office National des Forts'), managing over 11 million public forests in metropolitan France and the French overseas `departments', has been campaigning for several years now for greater recognition of the role and potential contribution of forests in the efforts to prevent climate warming; this conviction is based on its knowledge of forest ecosystems, enriched by partnerships it has forged with research institutes specialized in this area.
This meeting between an automotive manufacturer aware of its environmental responsibilities, and one of the largest public forest managers in the world, was the source of this project. It is the subject of the special anniversary report produced on the occasion of the 9th meeting of the Peugeot ONF Carbon Sink Scientific Advisory Committee in Paris.
Ten years later, the Peugeot ONF Carbon Sink Project in Amazonia is a success, with more than two million trees of 50 local species planted, accompanied by a high-level multi-disciplinary scientific program uniting the efforts of Brazilian and French teams at Fazenda So Nicolau, where the project is established.
It has demonstrated that it is possible to carry out reforestation projects, while ensuring they take into account a concern for the protection of biodiversity, through the choice of species planted. It also has social aspects, through respect for and involvement of local populations and socio-economic stakeholders.
Thanks to the extensive feedback from this pioneer project, ONF has become a major stakeholder in forestry carbon sinks in the world, via its subsidiary ONFI.
Peugeot and the PSA Group have remained effective leaders in the control of greenhouse gases as a result of a decade of uninterrupted massive investment in engine technologies, in line with the options they adopted over 10 years ago.
The primary aim of the project is to demonstrate that it is possible to carry out reforestation with local species in Amazonia. This reforestation, through the accumulation of atmospheric carbon in the wood through photosynthesis helps prevent the greenhouse effect as the trees grow.
Ten years after its launch, the project has fulfilled its objective: two plots of 1000 hectares of former pasture lands have been successfully reforested, largely with Amazonian species, and the storage of CO2 on the project is monitored annually by an internationally recognized methodology.
The second aim of the project is the study of the conditions of this forest planted from scratch: what are the most promising Amazonian tree species for planting? Which store the most CO2? How is carbon stored at the soil level?
But also: How do animal species invest this new afforested area? What parasites do the planted trees have to face? All these questions interest the scientific community and the answers will be useful to master successful reforestation in tropical regions.
Fazenda So Nicolau represents a `field laboratory' in areas as varied as forestry, ecology, entomology, soil sciences and, of course, research on the carbon cycle. In all these areas, for almost a decade, the project has served as a field of analysis for studies carried out in cooperation with Brazilian and international scientific partners. And all appreciate the long-term research made possible by this project that is committed to run over a period of 40 years.