Good morning, dear donors, from the rainy rainforest!
And while so many friends and colleagues are meeting in Glasgow and in hubs around the world to work on the pressing issues of climate change, we here at Iracambi are doing our part by planting trees!
And we're doing it with your support. Thank you!
This letter comes with a couple of maps to show you areas in which we are a) monitoring and maintaining seedlings planted in 2020 and b) preparing the area, digging the holes and planting some of this year's crop of healthy seedlings.
These properties are located in the area known as Graminha da Montanha, a highly strategic area very close to the border of the Serra do Brigadeiro State Park. So we're not only restoring the forest to protect the water resources in this important watershed, but we're also extending habitat for biodiversity.
You'll often hear of projects where people claim to be planting thousands of trees at very low cost. And you may wonder why our trees cost more. We're currently planting at a cost of $3.55 per tree, and, as production and planting increase, we hope to make economies of scale. BUT. Here´s a difference. Our trees are planted, monitored and maintained. Which is a lot of work. And we now have a survival rate of 89%
As you've probably gathered if you've been following our adventures, planting in new areas can be challenging, particularly when they include steep mountain sides. Thick vegetation needs to be cleared with a strimmer, holes need to be dug, seedlings need to be tranported to the planting sites, and all this before the seedlings are planted and fertilized.
Both areas where we are planting currently are delineated by yellow polygons (areas planted in 2020 and currently under maintenance) and white polygons showing the areas currently under restoration. These two areas comprise 6 hectares, 1.75 planted last year, and 4.25 under restoration right now where we've almost finished planting a total of 4,000 seedlings.
Most of the seedlings come from our forest nursery, but this year for the first time we're including some seedlings produced in on-farm nurseries - another initative that we set up in 2020 and which is being very successful in persuading landowners to understand the complex and exciting process of forest restoration, as well as bringing them an alternative income source. We have over fifty different tree species, carefully selected in accordance with topography, soils and exposure to sun/shade.
So, while we're sadly not attending COP in person, we´re not copping out!
with love and appreciation from Luiz, Alfredo and the forestry team
Hello, dear donors,
And greetings from Iracambi in the Brazilian rainforest where I want to give you the lowdown on what's involved in tree planting.
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Luiza, and I'm one of the intrepid band of tree planting volunteers at Iracambi. We are well into planting the first 1500 tree seedlings of this season. And since our goal is 20,000 before the end of this year and another 35,000 in 2022, there´s no time to waste! The rains arrived around ten days ago, and it's been raining steadily ever since - which is great for baby trees, even if it does mean muddy boots for tree planters.
So you may be wondering how I ended up at the end of a dirt road from nowhere, planting trees with the Iracambi team. All I can say is that I've always been fascinated by forests. I was raised on the outskirts of São Paulo city, and even though it's an urban area, my part of town was really close to the Serra do Mar State Park, which is a huge area of Atlantic Rainforest (315,000 hectares.) Both my parents were biologists, so I guess that had something to do with my decision to study biology...
So, when I heard that Iracambi was looking for volunteers to help out with the tree planting program, I knew this was where I should be. And now for a quick overview of a day in the life of a tree planter.
6.30 am and it´s been raining steadily all night. I jump out of bed, pull on my jeans and boots and head for the kitchen. It's coffee time. (It's always coffee time in Brazil, but there´s something special about the first cup of the day.) I join my fellow team members and we pile into the Land Rover and head up to today´s planting site. The tree seedlings have already been delivered, the holes have been dug, and now all we need to do is get those trees into the ground.
We'll be working in several different areas, and the mixture of tree species has already been decided, in accordance with the soils, the topography and the existing vegetation. One area is on a steep mountain slope above a spring, and here's where we´ll be planting in the water catchment area, to increase the vegetation cover and prevent runoff from the rains. Other areas are under partly regenerating forest cover, and here we´ll focus on species that are tolerant to shade. In each area we´ll plant a mixture of fast growing pioneer species and slower growing succession and climax species, and, since Iracambi has already been reforesting this plot for the past couple of years, we'll also check out the progress of the trees we planted in 2020 and 2019.
It rains steadily all day, but somehow I don't mind. I love to feel the rain on my face, and I love to think how happy the young trees must be. I love to visualize the new forest growing and flourishing, and I´m happy to be getting my hands dirty as I work.
But, as the afternoon wears on, I´m also dreaming of a hot shower and some clean clothes and a good dinner.....
And tomorrow I´ll be ready to go out again. I can´t think of anything I'd rather be doing!
And on behalf of my fellow tree planters, we'd like to send a big thank you for supporting our program. Thanks to you, we´re getting it done.
with love from Luiza and the Iracambi tree planting team
PS I forgot to say I`ve just been accepted into a graduate program in the local federal university. Ít's only one hour away from Iracambi, so I´ll be able to keep an eye on those trees I planted
Good morning, dear donors,
And we hope you are all doing well?
We have a ton of news for you in this letter. First of all, the rains have come. Thunder, lightning strikes, muddy roads, deafening choruses of frogs and bugs AND ….
Time to get planting.
Our new forestry coordinator Luiz has his first day on the job today. Talk about hitting the ground running. Luckily he has the rest of the team to help him get oriented, and, lucky for us, he is already familiar with the area. In fact, he owns a plot of land adjacent to the forest corridor that we have been constructing for some years, and he is keen to reforest some of his land. And of course he comes with years of experience in forest restoration, so there'll be plenty of learnings all round.
Another stroke of luck was the fact that we managed last week to get a tractor to make an access trail into the Graminha Mountain Reserve which is the plot of land that Iracambi acquired this year for reforestation. Parts of it are so steep as to be almost inaccessible for even the stoutest four-wheel drive vehicle. Snagging a tractor may not sound like a big deal to you, but tractors are few and far between in this neck of the woods, and, once the rains have set in, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to work on the steep slopes. So we are extremely happy on that front also!
Great news, too, on the large-scale Mantiqueira Forest Restoration Program of which we now officially a part. We’ll tell you more in our next report when we have hammered out the details. But one of the most promising aspects of the program is that the carbon certification will be carried out by the program as a whole, which is going to save us a LOT of time and energy and money, and leave us free to get those trees into the ground.
Another piece of good news is that increasing numbers of businesses are becoming interested in reducing their carbon footprint and many of them are looking into supporting nature-based solutions. Like planting trees.
That’s good news for the planet. And it’s good news – and a lot of work – for us! Thank you so much, dear donors for your support. We’re on the case!
With love and renewed thanks from the Iracambi Forestry Team
Good morning, dear donors,
I´m sure you are familiar with the quote in the title of this message?
The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.
Have no fears. With your help, we are on the case.
We're gearing up fast for the rainy season, holding our breath and praying that it comes soon. Just in case you wonder what our forestry team is up to, here's an overview of a week in their lives. In preparation for planting they are finalizing farm visits, collecting and storing data, and making a preliminary separation of the tree species most suitable for each property. They´re also checking on the seedlings planted earlier this year and getting ready to send in the first team to prepare the land and dig the holes.
Meanwhile the backroom boys and girls are working with potential donors and partners and we've recently come up with a retrospective of the program 2015-2020 - which we hope you´ll check out. We've included the link further down in this letter. Providing a quick overview of a program is always a useful exercise, and the main lesson we learned over the early years of the prgram was the importance of monitoring and maintenance. In our tropical climate there are all manner of competing species just waiting to suffocate the baby trees, but after two years of periodic maintenance the trees are able to hold their own! So this explains why around half the cost of producing, planting and maintaining a seedling is for labor.
Next week Deivid and Alfredo will be off to visit one of our favorite partners in the neighboring state of Rio de Janeiro. They can't wait to get out into the field and learn from some of the best in the business. Zoom calls are invaluable, but nothing beats rolling up your sleeves, getting your hands dirty and exchanging news and views with fellow tree planters.
We'll be sure to update you on the outcome of that visit, and in the meantime, thank you, thank you, for your support. You are the best!
with love and appreciation from the iracambi Forestry Team
PS We mentioned that we´ve hired a new forest nursery assistant, right? Her name is Fran, and we're sending you her photo.
Good afternoon, dear donors,
It's actually been raining this past week - remember we told you that the old timers were saying the rains were coming early? We don´t think this is actually the real rains yet, just a rehearsal, but we´ll take what we can get, and it´s amazing how just a few days of gentle rain can transform the landscape overnight.
And it's most welcome, as we approach the planting season.Over the past couple of weeks we've carried out another six farm visits, so we're well up to speed. Which is just as well, since once the rains set in with a vengeance we can have days when even the most hardy teams in the toughest of vehicles can scarcely make it up to some of the planting sites!
But so far, so good, and Deivid is very happy with the nursery situation. His seedlings are looking happy and healthy and his team has been scouring the forest for seeds, since the work of making seedlings depends on when the different tree species set seed. He reckons they've collected around forty kilos of seeds over the past few days, and collecting is only the start. As you know, different seeds require different methods of preparation, and all seeds require the right combination of water, oxygen, temperature and sunlight. Some species require scarification – not as bad as it sounds! Scarification simply means breaking through the hard outer coat that is designed to keep the seed in a state of dormancy. This can be done by passing through the digestive system of an animal or bird, or by gently sandpapering the hard outer coat to let the seed emerge. It's a lot of work, but we have yet to persuade Deivid to pass the seeds through his own digestive system..... You can also soak the seeds to soften the outer coat. Some seeds even require fire conditions to germinate, can you believe?
Another news item is that we'll be welcoming a new forestry coordinator at the end of the month, and there is much to be done before he arrives. Deivid and Alfredo will be paying a visit to one or our colleagues in Rio state who is an expert in large scale reforestry and will certainly have much to teach them. They are also signed up to become drone pilots which is going to simplify our monitoring considerably.
Lots going on down here. But we wouldn´t have it any other way.
So thank you once again for your amazing support. You are the best!
With much love and appreciation from the Iracambi Forestry Team
PS We forgot to tell you that we have another expert pair of hands helping out in the nursery. Her name is Fran, and we're thrilled that she has joined the team.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.
We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.
Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.Start a Fundraiser