Brazil is one of tentree’s first planting sites. Tropical rainforests continue to face mounting threats across South America so we are excited to be contributing support to the area of São Paulo.
Brazil features one of the most diverse and endangered tropical rainforests on the planet. tentree alongside Trees for the Future work with local farmers in the area to harvest rainforest seeds, create nurseries, and maintain this gorgeous and unique rainforest.
Waiting to be planted
Brazil is home to one of the most diverse yet endangered rainforests on the planet. In São Paulo, the country’s most populous state, the final vestiges of the Atlantic Rainforest line the coast, extending all the way to Paraguay and Argentina. The rainforest dates back thousands of years, but only seven percent of its original size remains today. Much of the original rainforest that has been lost due to logging and fire, has now been replaced with sugar cane crops and pasture land. Once the soil is exhausted, cattle ranchers utilize these areas until the land is over-grazed and severely degraded. The soil quality becomes so poor that nothing can grow, resulting in the disappearance of both plants and wildlife.
As well, Brazil faces the challenge of immense social disparity, with an ever-growing gap between the rich and poor. In 1999, the top one percent of Brazilians earned more than the bottom 50 percent combined. Many of these wealthy landlords have allowed large tracts of farmland on their property to deteriorate over time and become unusable. The rural poor are faced with a constant struggle against malnutrition, as farmland and food have become so scarce.
Working with our partners on the ground, tentree is contributing to a long-term program in São Paulo to help fight environmental destruction and rural poverty. We are planting species of tree specifically known to stabilize the soil and windbreak. With an improvement in soil quality, the land will soon be able to sustain crops and grow fruit trees. This will benefit local farmers and labourers by helping increase the availability of food and employment.
Additionally, our partners work with the local farmers to harvest rainforest seeds, create tree nurseries, and not only maintain, but restore what is left of this breath-taking and unique Atlantic Rainforest. tentree is also supporting our partner, Trees for the Future, with local education initiatives; teaching the communities about sustainable forestry techniques and soil conservation. This basic knowledge of how to minimize wind erosion and maintain the environment is essential to ensure the benefit these trees have is long-lasting.
Every year, the equivalent of 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide enters the global atmosphere, the result of the ever increasing use of fossil fuels. This increase in atmospheric carbon, in combination with the loss of forests has combined to make global climate change worse. These trees will not only help fight climate change, they also have many other benefits.
Moringa has been referred to as “Nebeday” for it’s strength and tendency to “never die”. It is popular in backyards throughout Asia, Africa, and Central America. It’s agroforestry uses include (1) food (leaves, young pods, flowers, and horseradish-tasting roots are all edible, and are sometimes used in salads). The moringa is very high in vitamins, calcium, protein, iron, potassium, and magnesium. Leaves are usually cooked in sauces for vitamins. Nutritious tea is made with the leaves for pregnant women and children. (2) It also works as fencing -- straight trunks make good living fence posts. (3) Lastly, powder from crushed seeds can be used to coagulate and settle dirt/bacteria out of water for purification.
Importance of Trees
We start off by teaching locals the importance of trees -- what they mean to their livelihood and the environment. Some examples of the benefits we explain are live fencing, soil stabilization, fodder, wood, income and food.
In the dry season, the dark green leaves of the seedlings in the nursery will attract livestock and wildlife, so the seedlings must be protected. In most tropical areas, there is a distinct rainy season, ranging from 4-6 months. It's important to get the maximum growth possible in this first rainy season. The seedbed should be established about 100-120 days before the rains are expected. It should be watered daily and more compost should be added weekly to maximize the growth and health of the seedlings.
Plant & Care for Trees
When the rainy season arrives, it is not necessary to transplant seedlings immediately. We mention this because this is a time of major activity for a farm family to get their food crops in the ground. During those first critical weeks, the seedlings can be left alone in the seedbed. With these fast-growing trees, the goal is to have seedlings 1-1.5 meters tall when they are transplanted. When it is time to transplant them, the seedbed should be thoroughly soaked to the point that the tree can be pulled from the ground without damaging the roots. As they are gently pulled from the ground, they should be stripped of their branches and leaves, except for the terminal buds at the very top.