Betting on agroforestry in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest

first_imgArticle published by Erik Hoffner Guapiruvu is a rural neighborhood in the Vale do Ribeira, home to the largest remaining stretch of Atlantic Forest in Brazil, and listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.The area has implemented a sustainable development plan, with many farmers opting for organic agriculture and agroforestry since they can sell their produce at a 30 percent premium.This system grows bananas in combination with “pé de ata” (Annona squamosa) and juçara, an endangered species endemic to the region.This is the second feature in a year-long series on agroforestry, an increasingly popular solution to challenges like climate change, food insecurity, and the biodiversity crisis. Agroforestry systems cover over a billion hectares of land worldwide. GUAPIRUVU, Brazil – To reach Guapiruvu one has to drive 20 kilometers (12 miles) on a gravel road. The first houses are big, solid, holiday homes for the wealthy people of Sete Barras. Farther away from the city, though, the houses become smaller and scattered. Every now and then, birds of many shapes and colors swiftly cross the road. From the passenger seat, Gilberto Ohta  names them as we pass them by.It’s hard to know you’ve reached Guapiruvu because there are no signs and the neighborhood lacks a center. In some places, two or three houses form what locals call a vila, but most of the time houses are isolated. Between them, banana plantations extend in all directions. To get around, people drive motorbikes — always without helmets and more often than not without shirts. Everyone passing by casts curious glances inside our car. Once they recognize Gilberto, they greet us and smile.Gilberto Ohta shows off his neighbor Geraldo’s agroforestry system. The soil is always covered to prevent the loss of water and provide organic matter. Image by Ignacio Amigo for MongabayThere’s nothing opulent about Guapiruvu, but farmers here don’t look as poor as in many other places in Brazil. As I found out during my visit, there are many reasons why this could be. A strong sense of solidarity, cooperation and environmental consciousness among locals are perhaps some of them. In this scenario, it’s not surprising that many farmers are turning to agroforestry — a system of growing trees, shrubs and crops together in a way that diversifies production while sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, providing habitat for wildlife, and increasing food security for farmers.As we visit the neighborhood and some of the agroforestry systems there, Gilberto shares with me the recent history of this land and how they managed to better divide its wealth among all its residents.Guapiruvu’s agendaGuapiruvu is a rural neighborhood of Sete Barras, a municipality of 13,000 in the Vale do Ribeira, in the state of São Paulo. Flanked by two state parks, the neighborhood sits at the heart of Brazil’s largest continuous remnant of Atlantic Forest, one of the richest biomes in the world, of which only 15 percent of the original extent remains today.In the 1980s and early ’90s, farming was a profitable activity in Guapiruvu — at least for those who owned land. Gilberto was one of the lucky few. His father was an influential man who bought cheap land here in the ’60s, and was even mayor of Sete Barras from 1982 to 1992. At the time, Gilberto was following his footsteps.“My father exploited many of the people in Guapiruvu. Even I exploited them,” Gilberto admits.Bananas from Gilberto’s agroforestry system. Image by Ignacio Amigo for MongabayToday, he is one of the community leaders, and it’s difficult to imagine him as an unscrupulous businessman. Small, talkative, with the tanned skin of someone who spends many hours outdoors, his energy and enthusiasm are contagious as he uses words like “solidarity”, “trust” and “collaboration”. By his own account, personal change came about at the end of the ’90s, at the same time the soil was becoming exhausted and the economic boom of the region was coming to a halt. His family and 30 others from Guapiruvu joined forces with the NGO Vitae Civilis and created a local Agenda 21 action plan — an initiative from the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 under which sustainable development programs can be carried out at the global, national and local levels — which sketched out a sustainable development plan for the region for the coming years.The creation of the plan was a watershed. A neighborhood association and a co-op were created, strengthening community ties. Concerned about the environmental impacts that their farming practices were having on the land, Gilberto and seven other farmers turned to agroforestry. They contacted Ernst Götsch, the Swiss farmer and researcher often credited with introducing modern agroforestry to Brazil. Götsch taught them the basics of his model, which he calls “syntropic agriculture” and which is based on the principle of “going along with nature instead of against it,” creating conditions that mimic the natural events of ecological succession.Of the eight initial farmers, only two remain: Gilberto and his friend Geraldo Oliveira. But the effort paid off. Today, 20 years later, Geraldo’s land has the best soil in Guapiruvu: dark, deep and full of life. Beneath the canopy of banana trees and other plants, the temperature is a couple degrees lower than outside. And as we stand in silence, the sound of wildlife emerges. In less than a minute, Gilberto names seven or eight different bird species by their songs and calls.The soil in Geraldo’s agroforestry system is full of life, decomposing organic matter and enriching the soil. Image by Ignacio Amigo for MongabayGilberto’s own land is also richer today than it was 20 years ago. According to him, many animal species returned after he abandoned conventional farming. Walking through his field he points to different native trees and explains: “A bird planted it,” and sometimes, “A bat planted it.”The examples of Gilberto and Geraldo have encouraged others over the years. That’s the case with Dito, a farmer of few words and melancholic glances, who started his own agroforestry system three years ago. He says bad weeds don’t grow as much as they used to, and that he’s seen his profits increase, mainly because of the money he saves on chemicals and fertilizers.A major challenge remains finding channels for the other crops and fruits produced by the agroforestry systems. For the time being, everyone in Guapiruvu still relies for their living on banana and the heart of the palmito pupunha, or peach-palm tree (Bactris gasipaes). The co-op markets the conventional and organic produce separately: while conventional farmers are able to produce larger amounts, organic farmers can sell their produce at a 30 percent premium. In both cases, the main buyers are public entities, such as state and city governments, that use the produce for school meals or food banks.To Sidenei Carlos França, an agricultural engineer who works for the state of São Paulo, the experience in Guapiruvu has been important for the region.“We need to generate local knowledge in Brazil,” says França. “And Gilberto has a great merit for having acted as a guinea pig.”He has a good opinion about the work being done in Guapiruvu, but argues that agroforestry systems should include timber resources to be profitable in the long term. A passionate supporter of agro-ecology and an agroforestry farmer himself, França has little doubt that this is the way to go.Gilberto stares at a juçara palm tree (Euterpe edulis), an endangered tree from the Atlantic Forest, in his agroforestry system. Next to the juçara there’s a banana tree (Musa sp) and a “pé de ata” (Annona squamosa). Image by Ignacio Amigo for Mongabay“To me, agroforestry is the agriculture of the tropics,” he says. “Monoculture is the European model. Here, if you walk into the forest, you see hundreds of species in a square meter. We have to mimic nature in agriculture.”Local land reformOne of the problems cited in the Agenda 21 plan was that many farmers lacked sufficient farmland. For many years, locals occupied lots within a large property that didn’t have a clear owner. After years of conflict and evictions, in 2005 an agreement was reached with the INCRA, the National Institute for Colonization and Land Reform, through which the central government acquired the land and rented it for life to 61 farmers.This move was a boon for the region. The lack of economic alternatives was pushing people into the woods to poach juçara (Euterpe edulis), an endangered tree species of the Atlantic Forest prized for its heart of palm. The agreement gave these outlaws a legitimate way of earning a living.Dada used to log palmito illegally before he got a piece of land in Guapiruvu’s settlement. Image by Ignacio Amigo for MongabayOne of them is Dada, who is now thinking of dedicating part of his land for agroforestry. Originally from northeastern Brazil, the poorest region of the country, Dada moved to Guapiruvu with his father in 1982, at the age of 9. For years he worked for others, and, when work wasn’t available, poached juçara, even spending time in jail for it.A few weeks ago, Dada was cited by the Environmental Police after they detected, through satellite images, that he had illegally cut down a few trees within his land. He was issued a fine and the area was placed under embargo, so now he can’t use it. Dada’s intention now is to make the best of a bad situation. He wants to negotiate with the authorities to set that area aside for agroforestry in exchange for them lifting the embargo. This way, the trees he logged, which he hasn’t moved, could be put to a good use, as their decomposition will enrich the soil beneath.Dada’s conversion didn’t come overnight, but he now talks about solidarity, cooperation and becoming more environmentally sustainable, using many of Gilberto’s words. Guapiruvu will have to overcome many challenges in the years to come, but its residents seem to be on the right track. Because, as Gilberto put it, “Guapiruvu’s GDP might be lower today than a few years ago. But our wealth is more [evenly] distributed.” And agroforestry might just be part of the reason.This feature is part of a yearlong series on agroforestry worldwide, see the whole series here and view previous features that concern agroforestry here.Ingnacio Amigo lives in São Paulo, follow him on Twitter via @IgnacioAmigoH. Agriculture, Agroforestry, Amazon Rainforest, Biodiversity, Biodiversity Hotspots, Climate Change, Conservation Solutions, Endangered Species, Forests, Rainforests center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Hawks Shake Up Joe Johnson Marvin Williams Traded

In his first week on the job, Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry accomplished what many cynical Hawks fans deemed virtually impossible: He traded Joe Johnson with his astronomical contract and found a taker for underachieving Marvin Williams.The deals will not become official until July 11, but Ferry has agreements in place to trade Johnson, who has $90 million remaining on a contract that was the richest in NBA history at the time, to the Brooklyn Nets for four player with expiring contracts and a conditional first-round draft pick. In a separate deal, Ferry sent Williams, the 2005 No. 2 pick overall pick in the NBA Draft, to the Utah Jazz for talented point guard Devin Harris whose contract expires after the upcoming season, too.It’s one thing to move either of those players, but for Ferry to trade both — and in his first week on the job — well, NBA fans in Atlanta might be ready to give a parade in his honor.In the Johnson deal, the Hawks get back reserve point guard Jordan Farmar, former Georgia Tech three-point specialist Anthony Morrow, someone named Johan Petro, the limited DeShawn Stevenson and young prospect Jordan Williams. Atlanta also would receive a 2013 first-round draft pick that is lottery-protected through 2016.Williams was exchanged straight up for Devin Harris, who can push Jeff Teague for the starting point guard job.Clearly, Ferry’s ambition is to create considerable space under the salary cap for next summer, when they can make a push for then-free agents like center Dwight Howard and lead guard Chris Paul.Once the trades become official — at the end of NBA’s moratorium on trades the Hawks will have dismissed as much as y $100 million in future salary commitments while taking back about $25 million.Johnson, 31, is owed nearly $90 million over the next four seasons. The six-time All-Star is considered among the best shooting guards in the Eastern Conference but has been unable to escape the shadow of his contract, especially after he had disappointing performances in the past two playoffs.Next likely to go is forward Josh Smith, who asked to be traded to a team with a stronger commitment to winning. Smith’s contract expires after next season and if he isn’t open to an extension, Ferry could be motivated to trade him instead of risk losing Smith for nothing. Ferry said recently that he plans to meet with Smith soon. read more

WTH Italian Soccer Fans Say Monkey Chants Are a

On Sunday when Lukaku was about to take the winning penalty in his team’s 2-1 victory over Cagliari Calcio, many Cagliari fans began making monkey noises and chants, which is commonplace in European soccer. “Ladies and gentlemen it’s 2019,” he added. “Instead of going forward we’re going backwards and I think as players we need unity and make a statement on this matter to keep this game clean and enjoyable for everyone.” But in a letter that was posted on an Inter Milan’s Facebook page on Sept. 3, fans said the chanting wasn’t racist at all, just a technique used to frustrate players. “We cannot ignore this, we must fight it. We can no longer hear that [monkey chant and] be scared. We have to be courageous and fight that,” Matuidi explained. “The referee did not take the right decision. The decision he should have taken was to stop the game.” “Hi Romelu. We are really sorry you thought that what happened in Cagliari was racist,” the letter read. “You have to understand that Italy is not like many other north European countries where racism is a real problem. We understand that it could have seemed racist to you, but it is not like that.” “Many players in the last month have suffered from racial abuse. I did yesterday too,” he wrote on Sept. 2. “Football is a game to be enjoyed by everyone and we shouldn’t accept any form of discrimination that will put our game in shame. I hope the football federations all over world react strongly on all cases of discrimination.” Soccer player Romelu Lukaku was the victim of racist monkey chants during a recent game in Italy. (Photo: Alessandro Sabattini / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images) “We are a multi-ethnic fans organisation and we have always welcomed players from everywhere,” the fans added. “However, we have always used that way with other teams’ players in the past and we probably will in the future.” “In Italy we use some ways only to help our teams and to try to make our opponents nervous, not for racism but to mess them up,” the letter continued. “Please consider this attitude of Italian fans as a form of respect for the fact they are afraid of you for the goals you might score against their teams and not because they hate you or they are racist.” Series A issued a statement and said it plans to “identify, isolate and ban those ignorant individuals whose shameful actions and behaviors are completely against those values that Cagliari Calcio strongly promotes in all their initiatives.” And earlier this year Cagliari fans were blasted for giving the same treatment to Blaise Matuidi, who later talked about the incident in an interview. Afterward, Lukaku posted a letter to Instagram and said something must be done so he and other players of color don’t have to endure racist treatment on the field. Other players who’ve been subjected to racist taunts on the soccer field include Sulley Muntari of Ghana, who received a one-game suspension after he walked out of a game after monkey chants began. Romelu Lukaku, a soccer player for the Italian team Inter Milan in the Series A league, is asking soccer leagues across the globe to stand up against racist chants from fans. read more