SINAL: Reforesting and Reconnecting with Nature

by Instituto Sinal do Vale
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SINAL: Reforesting and Reconnecting with Nature
SINAL: Reforesting and Reconnecting with Nature
SINAL: Reforesting and Reconnecting with Nature
SINAL: Reforesting and Reconnecting with Nature
SINAL: Reforesting and Reconnecting with Nature
SINAL: Reforesting and Reconnecting with Nature
SINAL: Reforesting and Reconnecting with Nature
SINAL: Reforesting and Reconnecting with Nature
SINAL: Reforesting and Reconnecting with Nature
SINAL: Reforesting and Reconnecting with Nature
SINAL: Reforesting and Reconnecting with Nature
SINAL: Reforesting and Reconnecting with Nature
SINAL: Reforesting and Reconnecting with Nature
SINAL: Reforesting and Reconnecting with Nature
SINAL: Reforesting and Reconnecting with Nature

This week we expanded our agroforestry project with a new species, moringa! Moringa is a plant that comes from Asia and Africa and has been discovered as a superfood for its amazing benefits like vitamin B and C, iron, Magensiam, and Zinc. Its seeds can actually filter water to make it potable. Moringa Oleifera grows in virtually all countries where malnutrition is widespread and may be a great part of a comprehensive plan to alleviate malnutrition throughout the world. Moringa is a tree that grows extraordinarily fast in environments where most other plants can’t survive — dry, semi arid places like Darfur and southern Ethiopia, in addition to tropical climates like Brazil. 

Here at SINAL, we are experimenting with different ways in which to regenerate the Mata Atlantica, including productive systems such as agroforestry. We want to find ways the reforesting the ecosystem can also bring economic benefit to local landowners, otherwise we believe we will never be able to recuperate the forest. We had American students from Canisius College - who were participating in a learning journey here at SINAL - that were able to particpate in our reforestation and they were extremely touched by the planting. Many said it was their favorite moment of their time at SINAL, knowing they were participating in the restoration of this endangered ecosystem.

The college come every year - so the idea is that each year they can plant more trees time they come and eventually reforest the whole hill. 

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SINAL has earned itself a new guava orchard! Last month, Sydney and Jorge - two local Brazilian workers who both have quite the green thumbs - planted 150 guava trees. Half are white guavas and half are red guavas. Guavas are a very typical fruit from Brazil and are used in many local dishes. As SINAL promotes healthy, sustainable and local foods, we are working to produce as many native, local fruit trees as we can and then designing recipes to fit them. 

Agroforestry is a great tool we use here at SINAL for reforesting while also producing an edible crop. We hope to use agroforestry as a technique with other local farmers in order to promote reforestation. Guava is a great fruit for agroforestry, as welll as cacau, which we often plant. 

In addition, our natural regeneration project is continuing with great sucess. In fact, a spring that had been dried up for years has returned on its own - a great sign of the water shed health of the region. 

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The "mutirao"
The "mutirao"

As the year comes to an end, we here at SINAL are reflecting on the wonderful successes we have had in terms of reforestation this year!

In total we planted over 1,000 trees in over 50 species since January, and many of these are thanks to the generous donors of Global Giving. Having done the calculations, this is at least 70 tons of carbon we are capturing. As we have shown in our reports throughout the year, we are using various methods of restoration in order to develop prototypes of possible techniques that can then be replicated in the region – from agroforestry to classical reforestation to an experimental and innovative technique called Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR). Read more about our ANR project here. We are working to show that cheaper, more innovative methods do exist for reforestation and production of food and our vision is to spread this knowledge throughout the Rio Green Belt region. 

Last month on national reforestation day, we had a large "mutirão" (which is a beautiful brazilian word for when everyone comes together to get something done) with another NGO called Reflorse to plant over 200 trees in agro-forest style. We planted a mixture of mulberry trees and banana trees (to provide shade) and native Mata Atlantica trees. We will soon add cacau and goiaba trees to complete the agroforest. It was a beautiful day, especially as this area had suffered from the fire in August. The group was very enthusiastic to participate and are looking forward to returning to plant the rest of the trees.

Donors who are interested in reading more about the agroforest can read about it on our blog here: http://thelivinglaboratory.weebly.com/journal

 

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Planting the trees!
Planting the trees!

As part of a generous donation made to SINAL thanks to the iGiveTrees Campaign, we were able to plant 500 trees in some of the most degraded lands of our property. This planting was particular special because we were able to obtain saplings from two highly threatened tree species that are nearly extinct - Jussara and Jacaranda Caviuna. Jussara trees have little blue berries, similar to the acai berry, that are edible; however, the tree has been brutely cut down for years for its palm heart, that while delicious, is deadly to the tree. In fact, the tree has become so endangered that it is actually a federal crime to cut down a tree and can land one in jail. Yet somehow, it continues to happen.

The process of planting these trees was quite special as well because of several reasons. Firstly, in our search for the 500 saplings, we took several journeys to different nurseries in the area. Specifically, we discovered that the state water treatment company has reforestation projects throughout the area where they produce saplings. They understand that the forested hills of the Mata Atlantica are what allows the entire city of Rio de Janeiro to have fresh water - therefore, restoring the degraded lands is absolutely essential to them. We visited two different nurseries, each with a different variety of species. Therefore, we were able to maximize the biodiversity of the 500 trees we planted. 

Secondly, throughout the process of the tree planting, we were able to include many diverse groups of people to planting. From local community members in the town of Santo Antonio, to international volunteers, to a group of undergraduate Harvard students who came fora  learning journey at SINAL, many hands and hearts were part of the planting. It was very touching to see how inspired people were to be able to be part of the planting - there is something very special about getting to plant a tree in the Mata Atlantica. We are very, very grateful for the donation and are honored to have been able to be part of it. 

The following is a list of species from the Mata Atlantica that we planted: 

Euterpe edulis (jussara)*,
Garcinia sp. (bacupari),
Jacaratia spinosa (mamao do mato),
Eugenia brasiliensis (grumixama),
Spondias morbin (caja mirim),
Inga vera (inga),
Zeyheria tuberculosa (ipe felpudo),
Dalbergia nigra (jacaranda caviuna)*,
Senna sp. (aleluia),
Cedrela fissilis (cedro),
Cassia leptophylla (falso barbatimao),
Schinus molle (aroeira salsa),
Citharexylum myrianthum (pau viola),
Ceiba speciosa (paineira rosa),
Handroanthus sp. (ipe cascudo),
Albizia sp. (angico pururuca),
Licania tomentosa (oiti),
Pterocarpus violaceus (aldrago).

 

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During the last few months, we have had to face many of the challenges that come with reforesation in the Mata Atlantica. But through the experience, we have learned lots and been able to continue progress despite it all.

Firstly, we did a plantation of 300 trees in the surrounding hills of an area called the Lake house. The steep slopes that surround the area are highly degraded and have been very difficult to reforest given their steepness. This type of topography is very common for the Mata Atlantica - this is why reforestation projects can be very expensive in this area because of the difficulty for reforestation teams to reach it. Through the help of many volunteers, local workers, children from the area, and a visit from undergrads from Harvard University (who did a one day learning journey at SINAL and helped plant), we were able to plant the 300 trees with over 30 species. 

 

Secondly, we were faced with the challenge of stray animals entering our property. Many neighbors let their horses and cows walk freely without fences - therefore, stray animals arrived on our land. This can be a threat because such animals will eat saplings when they are young and can cause problems for projects like ours. Luckily, we were able to track down the neighbors and explain the situation, and it ended up being positive as we were able to connect with more local ranchers and promote the positive aspects of reforestaion to them - many who know very little about it. 

 

Finally, a forest fire broke out on SINAL property last week. It started in the pasture lands, which is very common during the dry season, especially in the pastures of the African grass (an invasive species brought by the portugues that has taken over) which grows very tall and is highly flammable. The fire sadly reached part of the forested lands, though luckily our team was able to stop it from reaching the SINAL headquarters and one of the reforesation plots. However, we have decided to take the opportunity to form a local neighborhood fire brigade. The local fire department has trouble reaching the forests around our property therefore we must create our own form to prevent and fight fires. Forest fires are a huge problem in the Mata Atlantica and is essential to find solutions for them.

 

Thank you to all our donors for supporting our work. It can be a tough job - but every tree is worth it! 

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Organization Information

Instituto Sinal do Vale

Location: Rio de Janeiro, RJ - Brazil
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Thais Corral
General Coordinator
Duque de Caxias, RJ Brazil
$15,306 raised of $20,000 goal
 
143 donations
$4,694 to go
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