Revitalizing the Longest Biodiversity Corridor on Earth!

16 December 2021

The difference only one year makes!

The Black Jaguar Foundation (BJF) has one simple, but significant goal: reforest 2.4 million acres along the Araguaia River in the Amazon and Cerrado habitats (or ‘biomes’). To achieve this, 1.7 billion native trees will be planted along the 2,600 kilometer-long natural corridor.  Thanks to the generosity of a Canadian donor, Myriad Canada is working with the Black Jaguar Foundation to plant 40,000 of those trees in the next few months.

The BJF is now in the midst of planting its first million trees. The first tree seedlings were officially planted in 2018, roughly at the center of the corridor.

Local Landowners and Farmers: The Heart of the Project

BJF Members Carlos Eduardo Oliveira, Ben Valks and Marcelle Grumberg with local farmer César Gonzaga (2nd from right)

BJF’s projects are on private lands; as such, they rely on building partnerships with local landowners and farmers to secure land for planting trees. By partnering with local landowners, the BFJ seeks to become truly integrated in the community. However, adapting to the diverse needs and profiles of the various landowners can be challenging. Ingo Isernhagen, member of the BJF Advisory Board, explains: “There is a lot of resistance among landowners sometimes… While some agree that ecological restoration brings gains to agricultural production, and [they] are concerned about being within the law, others are unaware of new technologies and have half a head of cattle per hectare on their lands. They don’t immediately buy into the advantages of participation”.

Dimitrio Schievenin, Project Coordinator at the Black Jaguar Foundation, adds: “BJF seeks to show [the farmers] the benefits that they will have in addition to environmental regularization, such as improving the climate and soil, controlling pests through biodiversity and maintaining water resources. Unfortunately, there is no sense of urgency. The [rural landowners] think that [forest] restoration will not be their problem, but that of their sons or grandsons. Those who have joined the initiative so far have already had an ecological conscience.”

Despite the challenges, BJF believes that working together with the local landowners is the key to making this initiative both sustainable and successful, and they are in fact rapidly expanding their partnerships with local farmers.

The Social Impact:

While the environmental benefit is often cited as the main positive outcome of the corridor, BJF also  delivers powerful social impacts in the communities where it works, including creating job opportunities during the planting season. BJF has also started its first Seed Collection Collective, which will allow them to procure sufficient seeds for the numerous trees to be planted as well as hire and train local seed collectors. A successful pilot project was recently completed in Barreira do Campo with promising prospects for the future of the collective.

BJF Seedling Production Analyst Norivania in the nursery in Santana do Araguaia

A large-scale nursery is also being built in the Santana do Araguaia region. The nursery will house 500,000 seedlings, provide seedlings for the corridor and provide space for workshops and environmental education. It will become a hub for the restoration of nature along the Araguaia biodiversity corridor and a center for the development of sustainable agriculture in the region.

BJF also sponsored the training and equipment for Santana do Araguaia’s Fire Brigade. The training focused on preventing and combatting fires, so crucial during the dry season when there is an increased risk of wild fires.

Myriad Canada – Working in Partnership Towards a Healthy World

Some of the BJF Team members during a Team Training Event in August in Santana do Araguaia

Under the leadership of the local forest engineer and project manager, BJF purchased a large quantity of seeds earlier this year in preparation for the planting season.  Thanks to the generous donor, Myriad Canada  is funding the purchase and planting of 40,000 of these seeds. As the planting (rainy) season only got underway some time after the purchase, the seeds were first stored in the BJF facility at Santana Do Araguaia. While some of these seeds will be germinated, the seeds acquired with the KBF funds will be directly planted in restoration sites that are hospitable to direct seeding – where the land is not very degraded and is sufficiently fertile to allow for the seeds to germinate directly.

Joël Boele, Community Outreach Coordinator wants Canadians to know that “BJF is grateful for the support from Myriad Canada and excited to tell you all about this green ambitious project of hope in Brazil!”