Dear friends of Young Eco-Leaders of the Rainforest,
It's winter in the south hemisphere, but certain themes have kept things hot in the Atlantic Rainforest!
We're at the end of July, school break for the school and also for the Young Eco-Leaders program. Important things have changed since we've last met, keeping our program leaders busy to adjust their plans for the next semester.
At the end of last month, right after our last class of the first semester, there was a meeting organized in Belizario to discuss bauxite mining in our community. To our surprise, there were five mining employees to answer questions and gather information about the community's position regarding the theme. The people who were present made clear that mining goes against all the plans we have for our region. We are in an important watershed, atlantic rainforest refuge and our people depend on the fertility of their lands to generate food and income. We've asked them, more than once, to please leave us and forget their plans for our area. Still, they've answered they would proceed with individual negotiations, following the modern moto of a society that privatizes profits and socialize losses (environment and social).
This situation created several themed community work groups, suh as communication, events, education, law, politics and education, which now mobilize actions in all the spheres with a chance to push back the mining iniciatives.
Thus, our program Young Eco-Leaders of the Rainforest is now part of the community education mobilization, and on the next semester we'll learn as much as we can about bauxite mining, providing our youth a solid base to act as knowledge multipliers, leading iniciatives in the school from the inside.
And as we were on vacation, we also had a chance to have fun! We organized a trail to Itajuru Peak, the highest in southeast of Serra do Brigadeiro State Park. We began the trail real early, 6:00 a.m., which might explains why half of our group were absent and the sleepy faces in the pictures. Still, for those who joined us for a hiking day in the state park, they had a priviledged perspective to comtemplate nature's richness, our community's landscape and all the wonderfull and vulnerable things of this place called home.Thanks for supporting our program. Your contribution was never so important as it is now.Gui, Binka, and all the Young Eco-Leaders Team
We have lots of good news to share!The first one is, two days ago, we received two brazilian interns, who will help us to develop better agroforestry systems for our region. They are Felipe Dantas and Carlos Rubens, both agroecology students from the Federal Technology Institute, in Rio Pomba, Minas Gerais state. On their second day, they had a chance to climb up Itajuru, the highest rock in our area (1640m above the sea level), scorting a group of local youth who are part of Iracambi´s Environment Education Program "Young Eco-Leaders of the Rainforest" (check our project GG page below) There they had a chance to see forest fragmentation in action, and check the big picture of the scenario where they will implement their ideas.
Tomorrow we´ll visit our first local producer eager to reforest part of his lands. This is a special case, as this farmer already works with a big variety of fruits. The big issue is that he plants all of them conventionally, using lots of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and thus contaminating his water sources. Having a chance to reforest in his land, is also a chance to build a fruit agroforest system, and prove him that it actually works. So hands and minds on the job and fingers crossed!
On Saturday we´re visiting two other rural producers, but in this case our main task we´ll be recovering their springs. Carlos and Felipe have already given us awesome suggestions of how to plan our agroforest systems in a way that the local fauna help us to bring more tree´s diversity. Isn´t it cool?On next Saturday, August first, we´ll have a chance to present our project and interns in a local gathering organized by our neighboors from Serra do Brigadeiro State Park. We´re looking forward to meet local farmers and recruit more people willing to preserve their springs.
And it is also important to say that we´re studying a partnership between Iracambi and IEF (the State Park Institution in Minas Gerais) to sum up our reforesting efforts, and see if we can provide free fencing materials for the springs we reforest, as nowadays it is the biggest cost for the farmers.
All this good news wouldn´t be real if it wasn´t for surreal people like you, our friends and supporters, who have contributed to our program.
Thanks for all your help and keep it real!
Gui, Felipe, Carlos, Toni and all the Iracambi Staff
Hello, dear friends of the Young Eco-Leaders!
It’s been almost two months since our program started, and we have lots to share!
The first good news is that, in partnership with Belizario’s local church, we’ve managed to convince the water supply company to give the district the use of one of their big trucks twice a week so they can send their recyclable waste to a recycling association in Muriae. Recycling is of major importance for places like Belizario and Rosario da Limeira which lie above gigantic bauxite mines (the second largest in Brazil) – aluminum is the most profitable material recycled material, so the more that is recycled by the communities, the less mining companies will feel the need to exploit the currently untouched local resources. Iracambi´s community mobilization in a recent past was crucial to preserve natural resources and forest fragments. A strong society organization supported by Iracambi is therefore critical to deterring the mining companies.
And where do the Young Eco-Leaders fit in this initiative? Leading, of course. They are going to be part of the community mobilization, visiting houses and educating people on how to separate their recyclable waste and put organic waste in good use. Isn’t that cool? Our current semester is well underway, and we have just concluded our first theme: water. After some classroom learning on the topic, the students helped our volunteer Jacqueline Reu with her water quality project, carrying out practical research using bio-indicators in Iracambi’s streams. As part of this topic, we also took them to the biggest water treatment station in Muriae, so they could check out how the water flows in urban context. We also visited two rural producers: one who has no more water in his property after the hard drought and now depends on a good relationship with his neighbor to live and produce; and another one who believes his farm is a good model of how to effectively manage water resources. We wrapped up our water theme by discussing how climate change is impacting the rain cycle and our relationship with water. In just two months we have visited a lot of places and involved our students in a whole range of activities related to environmentalism and leadership. But this year has just begun, and we have much more ground to cover. The next topic will be food, an extremely important theme in a region mainly composed by rural family producers, and we’re all looking forward to have more practical activities as the program continues.
And, once again, it is important to say that all these wonderful things are only possible because of people like you, dear friends and supporters, who put your faith in us. With our rainforest regards, Gui, Binka, Robin and all the Young Eco-Leaders!