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The Amazon Rainforest. Image credit: iStock

Data snapshot: Meet the startups tackling conservation and deforestation in Latin America

July 12, 2023

Data Snapshot is a regular AgFunderNews feature in which we analyze agrifoodtech market investment data provided by our parent company, AgFunder.

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A couple months ago AgFunder unveiled not just its inaugural Latin America AgriFoodTech Investment Report but also a new category for agrifoodtech investment: conservation.

“We created this category for the Latin America report to highlight the importance of conservation and reducing deforestation in the region,” notes the report, which was produced in collaboration with SP Ventures and in partnership with Alianza Team, BASF and GLOCAL. Startups in this category are working on ecological restoration as well as calculating and awarding carbon offsets as part of that work.

Conservation tech is still a narrow sliver of the overall investment pie in Latin America, with startups raising $150 million in 2022 from a total $1.7 billion. But few would argue against its growing importance, given the challenges the region faces when it comes to climate change and planetary health.

 

As the planet’s most biodiverse region, Latin America is home to 60% of global terrestrial life. But it’s also home to rampant deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest and the Gran Chaco. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that 27% to 43% of the land in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador is impacted by deforestation, leading to desertification and drought and making land unfit for cultivation. In Argentina, Mexico and Paraguay, the numbers only go up.

Soil degradation from deforestation and over-grazing is also a major problem, with more than 68% South America’s soil impacted by erosion. The region also grapples with water pollution and in some cases water scarcity, such as Chile’s 13-year-long megadrought.

And while these are some of the region’s biggest problems, they’re not the only ones impacting communities, ecosystems and, ultimately, lives and livelihoods.

Top conservation deals in Latin America

As AgFunderNews noted in June, conservation efforts vary wildly from one country to the next in Latin America. Costa Rica has reversed deforestation over the last several years and is globally recognized as a leader in forest conservation.

Over on the other side of the fence, Brazil has seen deforestation increase.

The latter is perhaps why there’s a growing number of startups in Brazil working in the conservation realm, and investors funding them. The top deals in conservation tech for 2022 all went to Brazil-based startups:

  • Re.green is employing spatial analysis technology, seeds for native tree species  and partnerships with local communities to restore and monitor forests. The company acquired tree nursery Bioflora in 2021; it currently has the capacity to plant 2 million seedlings per year and could expand to up to 10 million per year.
  • Carbonnext says it conserves over 1.6 million hectares of the Amazon Rainforest by monitoring and preserving forest land and selling carbon credits.
  • Similarly, Mombak purchases or leases deforested lands and restores biodiversity to them. Restoring and protecting local surrounding communities is also an integral part of the company’s mission.
  • Finally, Moss runs an online carbon credits platform to help companies offset their carbon emissions.

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