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Bionic Planet: Reversing Climate Change by Restoring Nature

Apr 16, 2024

Today we’re going to try and help you understand one of the most vexing components of the climate challenge — namely, the overlapping, interlinking, and contradictory land titles that determine control of so many tropical forests — in this case, the Amazon, the lungs of the planet.

 With no clarity over control and no realistic way of enforcing it, there’s no way to sustainably manage and protect this massive bulwark against climate change.

Today’s episode centers around a few individuals, most notably a Japan-born physician named Jonas Morioka, who migrated to Brazil in the 1980s, purchased timberland in the 1990s, pivoted to conservation in the 2000s, and is now embroiled in a title fight over a transaction that may or may not have taken place a century ago.

His story is far from unique, and it shows how easy it is to chop the forest, how difficult it is to save it, and how tenure disputes make it even more difficult to leverage carbon finance for the common good.

My guests are Vinny Maffei and Olivier LeJune of Quantum Commodity Intelligence. We collaborated in a recent story they ran called “How a decree created a REDD old mess in Brazil, and the new effort to fix it,” which you can read here:


  • "To meet the climate challenge, we must save the Amazon." - 00:02:38-00:02:49

  • "Decades of research have shown that you reduce deforestation in part by reducing poverty, and you reduce poverty in part by giving people an incentive to manage land sustainably." - 00:04:23-00:04:34

  • "Brazil is very famous for having a lot of large properties owned by just a few people. It's a very unequal country." - 00:19:33-00:19:44

  • "Forest conservation starts with the people in and around the forest." - 00:28:16-00:28:26

  • "Deforestation isn't a puzzle book with answers in the back. It's a wicked problem with no simple solution." - 00:30:24-00:30:36

  • "There are groups out there that are devoted to going in and finding things wrong." - 00:45:01-00:45:12

  • "There's a lot of interest around REDD+, amongst the media and other actors." - 00:46:39-00:46:49


  • 00:00:00 - Introduction to the Climate Challenge

  • 00:05:30 - Introduction of Michael Greene and Initial Impressions

  • 00:10:12 - Overview of Land Titles in Para, Brazil

  • 00:14:06 - Discussion on Pará State and Porto Region

  • 00:18:29 - Jonas Morioka's Land Purchases and Legal Issues

  • 00:21:48 - Land Ownership and Settlements

  • 00:25:52 - Legal Disputes and Involvement of Public Defender

  • 00:30:03 - Discussion on Indigenous and Environmental Groups

  • 00:32:27 - Arguments Regarding Land Rights and Conservation Efforts

  • 00:37:00 - Negotiations with ITERPA and School Construction

  • 00:41:21 - Financial Aspects and Legal Agreements

  • 00:43:10 - Status of School Construction and Legal Challenges