United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Rio de Janeiro's Reforestation Program (Refloresta Rio)

Rio de Janeiro City Hall (
Local / Regional Government

    A greener city, with the forest contributing to the reduction of landslides and floods, richer in fauna and flora, protecting the waters and providing a better quality of life for its citizens. This has been the Reforestation Program’s goal for over 30 years, and even with all the challenges, Rio de Janeiro has, through reforestation, managed to improve the landscape and bring environmental benefits to our city. Further than protecting and providing the development of natural regeneration of forests and trying to reestablish contact among citizens and the original Atlantic Forest, reforestation also has become a barrier to avoid occupations in areas at risk.

    Implementation of the Project/Activity

    To start an intervention, the community association presents a formal request and the Municipal Coordination of Green Areas carries a technical evaluation to confirm the feasibility in the area. Once technical feasibility is confirmed and there is the availability of budget, personal protective equipment, materials, and technical staff for monitoring, the executive project is prepared and meetings are held with the community to clarify what the program is and thus start the process selection of a resident who will be in charge and lead the local field team. The participation of residents realizes the social dimension of the program. In many cases, knowledge about environmental recovery techniques used in the program becomes a differential for residents to access formal employment and autonomous activities. As the time offered by the volunteers would be insufficient to carry out a fast and good quality job, the system of "paid joint effort" was adopted and remuneration was offered. Consequently, the project was transformed into an instrument for generating income and, therefore, mitigating unemployment and promoting environmental education. Currently, 382 people are employed by the project. In 2021, US$726.421 is allocated for the program. The activities are monitored by forestry engineers, agronomists, and biologists who technically guide the program's actions and verify a series of parameters and the following indicators: implanted area, maintained area, planting, and management - planting in areas already implanted in order to increase the diversity of flora.


    In 34 years, the program has planted more than 10 million seedlings of native species of the Atlantic Forest and increased the city's green coverage by 3.4 thousand hectares, recovering the fauna and bringing back the wildlife, preserving Life on Land. In addition, the building of a natural barrier contributes to the reduction of landslides, creating resilience and providing a better quality of life, collaborating to reach SDG #11. Regarding the Climate Action Goal, The Municipal Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) Inventory, which quantifies and measures the origin of the city's GHG emissions, pointed that the number of carbon removals from reforestation and urban tree planting effective managed to offset 100% of total emissions from the land-use change from 2012 to 2017. The financial incentive, on average, R$ 1,000 (about USD 180) per month offered to 382 workers contributes to the Eradication of Poverty in the areas included in the program.

    Enabling factors and constraints

    The local community’s commitment is vital to the program’s continuity over its 34 years as it was designed as a tool for social development and to increase the safety of the community by reducing landslides and floods. With the governance structure development, environmental issues were incorporated into the social bias. The reforestation activities started with a series of task forces (sanitation, rainwater, stairway), therefore, there was an assembled structure and knowledge already acquired to the prosperity of activities. Challenges are the social and safety vulnerability of communities and the need to protect the areas from forest fires.

    Sustainability and replicability

    The strength of the program lies in the interaction between society and the municipal government. This connection solidified over three decades, as well as the investments of the City Hall in training, green recovering techniques, and financial incentives, sustain outcomes of the practice. The city is willing to reply to the knowledge of partner governments and institutions sharing its operational experience (such as negotiation and engagement with the local community, hiring of workers, etc.) and its scientific techniques (land evaluation, seedling nursery, as well as land recovering techniques). Extending the practice depends on financial availability. To this end, Rio is searching for national and international partners willing to sponsor forest regeneration initiatives with great social impact.

    Other sources of information

    Website: https://www.rio.rj.gov.br/web/smac/recuperacao-ambiental Reforestation Portal: www.reflorestario.prefeitura.rio Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reflorestario/

    COVID-19 Impact

    The pandemic affected productivity and, consequently, decreased the total area of the project. From April to June 2020, the activities were suspended. A minimal staff, formed by people outside the risk group, carried specific maintenance activities and preventive action against forest fires. After this period, the activities resumed due to security measures. The reforestation program is part of Rio’s strategy towards a green and equal recovery as it offers an income resource for its works, while they are unable to enter the formal market, and, by recovering green areas, it safeguards the population from natural disasters, helps to mitigate heat islands and reduce GHG.

    No progress reports have been submitted. Please sign in and click here to submit one.
    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    22 November 1987 (start date)
    21 December 2024 (date of completion)
    Rio de Janeiro City Hall - Municipal Secretariat for the Environment
    Other beneficiaries

    The project directly benefits the community by reducing the number of landslides in the areas covered by the project, mitigating the surrounding microclimate, reducing sediment and flooding in the lower parts of the communities, and generating income for the local population. Community participation is vital. When they identify themselves as responsible for the reforested area, they become guardians of the project and work as multipliers.

    More information
    Contact Information

    Bruno, Chief of International Relations and Cooperation of Rio de Janeiro City Hall