Skip to main content
2023 Finalist
and Restore Nature


Nominated by:

Belterra works with smallholder farmers in Brazil to restore forests through regenerative agricultural practices and to create market incentives for sustainably grown crops.

Covering around 40% of Brazil, the Amazon is the largest tropical forest in the world. However, since 1970, deforestation has claimed an area bigger than the size of France. Facing similar adversity is Brazil’s second-largest forest, the Atlantic Forest. Once covering an area the size of South Africa, today more than 85% has been cleared, with intensive single-crop farming and cattle raising threatening the remaining land and soil.

Regenerative agriculture is a farming method that improves soil, biodiversity and crop quality, and it’s an important tool for protecting land, sequestering carbon and protecting areas like the Amazon and Atlantic Forests. But sustainable farming and forestry in Brazil face practical barriers that make these practices extremely challenging.

Small farmers struggle to compete with large agribusinesses, and they face pressure to conform to historically profitable models of intensive monoculture farming, extensive cattle raising, or direct deforestation. These farmers may also lack connections to international buyers, the resources to invest, or, the tools and technologies needed to cultivate land sustainably. Today, more than three million farmers in Brazil do not have the technical guidance or the financial means to change their land management techniques. This has led to the degrading of about 70 million hectares of land in the country.

Belterra’s Solution

Founded by former Brazilian government official Valmir Ortega, Belterra partners with small and medium-sized farms in Brazil, providing them with support and incentives to adopt regenerative practices. Their work helps to protect the Amazon and Atlantic Forests and improve the land’s ability to sustainably produce cacao, cassava, bananas and other essential crops.

Belterra also connects farmers with commercial partners to create new markets and customers for their crops, ensuring that sustainability and profitability go hand-in-hand.

Their Impact

At scale, Belterra’s model could transform smallholder farming. Farmers can earn a sustainable income, and they can compete with large agribusiness by using nature- friendly agroforestry rather than with intensive monoculture farming techniques.

At the same time, with every farmer who joins the scheme, their collective efforts slowly replenish the land and the forests.

In the two years since it was founded, Belterra has established 1,800 hectares of biodiverse agroforestry areas and protected 18,000 hectares of land – an area equivalent to around one and half times the size of San Francisco.

By 2030, Belterra plans to restore 40,000 hectares of Brazilian forest, which will not only bring better livelihoods to thousands of farmers but provide a vital carbon sink to store CO2.

Other Finalists in Protect & Restore Nature

Learn About the Earthshots

and Restore

By 2030, we choose to ensure that, for the first time in human history, the natural world is growing – not shrinking – on our planet. 

This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Protecting areas of high biodiversity such as forests, wetland, peatlands and wildlife corridors
  2. Restoring damaged ecosystems
  3. Feeding people while protecting nature
Learn more about this Earthshot

Clean Our

By 2030 we choose to ensure that everyone in the world breathes clean, healthy air – at World Health Organization standard or better. 

This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Engaging citizens in data collection and clean air policies
  2. Preventing the burning of fields, forests and waste
  3. Transitioning to clean transportation for all
Learn more about this Earthshot

Revive Our

By 2030, we choose to repair and preserve our oceans for future generations. 

This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems
  2. Replenishing fish populations
  3. Reducing demand for fishmeal
Learn more about this Earthshot

Build a

By 2030, we choose to build a world where nothing goes to waste, where the leftovers of one process become the raw materials of the next – just like they do in nature. 

This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Reducing food loss from farm to fork
  2. Phasing out single-use and non-recycled plastics
  3. High-value circularity in fashion and electronics
Learn more about this Earthshot

Fix Our

We choose to fix the world’s climate by cutting out carbon: building a carbon neutral economy that lets every culture, community and country thrive. 

This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Creating an equitable clean energy future
  2. Addressing non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions
  3. Decarbonising hard to abate sectors
Learn more about this Earthshot
The Earthshot Prize