Trusting always, that there are no accidents, and that things work out for the best regardless of my preconceived ideas….
I arrived in Brazil hoping to visit the Amazon partners I had corresponded with from the States, to see if one of their projects was a good fit for a first partner project with Rainforest Eco. But on Christmas Eve, I met the keeper of an ecological refuge in the Atlantic rainforest who hosted me at his private reserve for 10 days, while teaching me what I could absorb, and making introductions to people who could be helpful.
Then the second “coincidence” occurred when I was introduced via email to another area of Mata Atlantica through one of my working partners at HUB, near the village of Cunha. I was invited to visit their private reserve, where I met the Brazilian director of Global Greengrants, Maria Amalia Souza. After spending the last two weeks in Cunha, and becoming familiar with her stellar background with NGOs, I have great confidence in the organizations she works with.
One of those here in the town of Cunha, working in cooperation with the state of a Sao Paulo government/World Bank program for reforestation and local subsistence farmers who are learning about organic agro forestry. I have shot many small videos on my field visit with them, and will be putting together a small presentation on the system that exists here.
I find this to be a perfect, while humble beginning project for Rainforest Eco to focus upon. The infrastructure is in place – from a respected Brazilian NGO CASA-Center for Socio-Environmental Support , to their regional partner organization of Serra Acima, to the cooperative of local growers and a brand new farmers’ market to share benefits and support one another in finding alternatives to slash and burn farming.
I know the Amazon still holds so much value to be preserved. But this little corner of Mata Atlantica is one of the two most endangered and diverse forests left on the planet. In this climate, cooled by the sea, reforestation can occur fairly rapidly, as I’ve been shown these last weeks. The potential this regional program holds, by proving its methods viable to the state government, who would replicate the methods in a wider area is very promising.
“The Atlantic forest is much more diverse than the Amazon forest,” said Dr. Andre M. de Carvalho, a Brazilian botanist from Bahia… The diversity and primitive nature of several species found in patches of Atlantic forest indicate that more than 500,000 years ago the Atlantic forest supplied many tree species to the Amazon, Dr. de Carvalho said.
While the Atlantic rain forest is one of the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems, it is also one of the most threatened. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the world’s two most endangered tropical ecosystems are the Atlantic rain forest in Brazil and the rain forest of Madagascar, an island off the coast of East Africa.
In recent decades, Brazilians’ demand for farm and ranch land has radically slashed the Atlantic forest.”
This is where we’ll begin our Impact by introducing the project to HUB’s Global Marketplace.
Well it’s been sketchy internet access while I’ve had my first crash course in the value of Mata Atlantica – the Atlantic Rainforests of Brazil. Where to begin – this is going to be an unfolding story of great importance over the coming days as I’m able to add references from the sources who have become my authorities on this matter.
In the US, all we hear about when we hear of Brazilian rainforests, is the Amazon. Without diminishing in the least the import of the area, we have not been told about the Atlantic rainforest, of which only 7% remains. However, within this 7% is said to be even greater diversity than found in the Amazon due to the climatic differences.
Here slash and burn is the greatest threat, as I’ve heard a rumor that there are more cattle than Brazilians on the land. People are living for bare subsistence and must be shown the value of their land WITH trees (reforestation can take place in a relatively short period of time) and given sources of income for keeping the trees intact, while sustainably harvesting an abundance of small crops.
One of my sources of information, Antoni Karras – guardian of a magnificent waterfall and ecologist in the state of Rio de Janeiro, has shared with my some grizzly news from a report presented to the University of Wisconsin, which stated that the Amazon is already in massive danger due to climate change melting the snow capped mountain that feeds the Amazon River itself, and the dense dark matter of the equatorial forest. So while every effort to preserve this forest is valued, it may be of greater importance in the bigger picture to REforest the Mata Atlantica and other previously forested areas of Brazil to replace the loss of Amazon over time.
It’s been an amazing week of making connections for the Amazon rainforest. Yesterday I had a meeting with a Brazilian furniture designer, Fabiola Bergamo, who has been making trips into remote reserves to work alongside of native craftsmen to build gorgeous furniture and home decor items from scraps of exotic woods that were otherwise being wasted, grasses that would otherwise be burned, and creating economic sustainability for families.
We’re very excited by the potential for collaboration, and she opened two new reserve partner possibilities to me.
I’m on my way to get my Yellow Fever shot as this trip to meet the organizations committed to the preservation process draws closer.
Um ambraco (a hug),
It was a pleasure to speak with you this afternoon and to hear about your plans to establish a business with an admirable vision. I am also very pleased to hear that you are considering a visit to Brazil, and know that your journey will be at once rewarding and informative.
Your goal to support organizations which are dedicated to the preservation of the Amazon rainforest is an area where we share a common interest. As I mentioned to you in our conversation, I have spent most of the last 4 years in the region of Manaus as we work to establish a fruit processing business which will redefine the business dynamic of the region in favor of a more ethical and equitable outcome for smallholders in the Mid Solimoes region. Our initiative involves an integrated approach to many of the challenges which currently exist in the region, and employs a long term strategy informed by both local and international stakeholders. You might be interested to have a look at our site, www.turiyaamazonia.com.
Our primary partner in Manaus is Associacao Hileia (www.hileia.org.br). Their grassroots, principled approach and profound understanding of the local conditions were fundamental in our choice to work with them. They have a reserve near Manaus which boasts an impressive level of biodiversity due to its location at the confluence of the Rio Negro and Rio Solimoes. They work with local communities, the State government and the scientific community in their efforts to spread knowledge and protect the rainforest.
I feel that a meeting with the Director of Hileia, Dr. Erich Pabst and his team might be very useful for you as you undertake your due diligence. I would be pleased to connect you with Hileia should your travel plans be confirmed, and I have every confidence that your journey to Manaus will be pivotal to your understanding of how best to accomplish your specific goals.
Please keep me informed of your plans, and I can make all of the necessary arrangements to make your visit productive and worthwhile.
I am also hopeful that we might have the opportunity to meet either in Manaus or in LA before too long.
With best regards,
Note added 1/2/2010: Read Ian’s bio on the About Us page as he joins the team.
Well, I’m in the midst of making arrangements with people involved in Brazilian rainforest preservation work now, hoping to find our ideal partners as recipients of funds the company will generate.
Just got off the phone with Ian Scanlan who was referred to me by Palo Hawken of Bossa Nova Juices, who was referred to me by Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest. (I love the way relationships can grow out of simple connections…)
Ian’s making arrangements for me to visit a reserve called Hileia Center, approximately 50 miles north of Manaus – which is just south of the Equator. It will be a humid 100 degrees in the cool of January …OMG.
This trip is starting to become very tangible all of a sudden, and I’m at a loss for words to describe the feelings of passion, providence, serendipity, patience and determination that it’s taken to arrive at this moment.
I’m amazed at what this process is teaching me, already!
Welcome to the humble beginning, of Rainforest ECO, the 100% conscious textile company dedicated to Brazilian rainforest preservation. In the days ahead you’ll hear from some of our partners who are engaged in the rainforest preservation work, as well as watch our development from an inspired Vision into a massive Action plan!
My name is Alana Lea, and I am a Brazilian American botanical artist, born in Rio de Janeiro.
As I prepare for my first trip home since leaving as a baby, I also plant my intention to use my talents for the good of our children’s earth, by creating sustainable products to generate revenues for the important rainforest preservation work being done by my partners in Brazil.