Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is on the rise. In 2020 the area destroyed in the first four months is almost double that of 2019.
The Amazon rainforest is a vital carbon store in the fight against the climate emergency. The deforestation of these areas also leads to the burning of the felled trees, releasing even more carbon into the atmosphere.
“I wanted to go to college to study to be a veterinarian, then go to the big city and make money, but being part of this project made me understand that my wealth is right here, in my backyard, in the midst of my cashew, Baru and cecropia trees.”
Milene Alves, 19, a biology student in Nova Xavantina, in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil.
The Xingu Seed Network brings indigenous people together to collect and plants seeds, from trees and other plants native to the Xingu, Araguaia and Teles Pires regions in Brazil, that are then sold to landowners and farmers for them to reforest their land.
So far, the network has reforested more than 6.6 thousand hectares of degraded areas in the Xingu and Araguaia Basin. The seeds are collected and processed by 568 collectors from indigenous communities, generating an income of R$4 million.
They collect seeds from diverse, regional flora in large quantities and with the quality that the market demands, generating essential income for family farmers and indigenous communities.
The Xingu seed network serves as a channel of communication, where knowledge is shared that benefits the forest and its diverse cultural uses.
The network uses a seeding technique called Muvuca involving scattering seeds either by hand or using existing farm machinery. This reduces the costs of forest restoration in relation to the traditional planting of seedlings, so it is possible to ‘plant’ up to ten times more trees per hectare and at up to half the cost than planting with native seedlings.
The seed collectors have a strong community and communicate regularly through whatsapp, they share knowledge, tips for equipment and send through videos of their work including ecosystem recovery. It is how they arrange meetings with the network.
The network communicates with farmers via existing farming networks, and on the road, at restaurants and at social gatherings, reaching a wide variety of people.
What’s the impact on customers/beneficiaries?
Reducing forest fires, creating jobs that encourage young people to return to rural areas and cleaning the rivers are just some of the co-benefits of reforesting. They are also helping large farmers to comply with the law and engaging many different areas of society.
In 2010, in the Mid and Lower Xingu basin around 100 thousand hectares were badly burnt. The next year this figure fell to 16 thousand hectares. In 2016 just 7 hectares were affected in the Mid and Lower Xingu. In 2018, they managed to reduce the number of fires to zero. In 2019, even with fires raging throughout Amazonia, only 1600 hectares were burned in this part of the Xingu.
People who were once leaving the indigenous areas of Brazil to find work, are returning, and the network is actively encouraging the younger population to become seed collectors. In addition to being an important socioeconomic alternative, collecting seeds means that effective mapping and monitoring of the territory can happen at the same time.
Edimarcio de Araujo Prudente, from Borges and Prudente Soluções Ambientais, has been a partner of the Network since 2011. In 2015 alone, his company acquired nine tons of seeds from RSX for the restoration of Permanent Preservation Areas (APPs). “We are going against the grain of agribusiness. They plant crops and we plant forest. And that would be impossible if we were not partners of the Network, he comments.
Reforesting also has an impact on the microclimate of the region, the amount of rainfall, and the water quality in the region. This in turn affects the soil quality – the network has seen a vast improvement in soil quality in the Sehada biome - meaning farmers get a higher yield of crops.