The SINAL reforesation project continues to expand out into new areas that need reforesting. At the end of May, students from Canisius College in Buffalo New York came to SINAL for a week long learning journey on sustainability in the Mata Atlantica. On day 4 of their journey, they spent the afternoon planting trees in a new area that the SINAL team had recently cleared for planting. For many of the students, it was the first tree they had ever planted, so everyone was very excited. One professor said that she felt it was one of the best and most meaningful experiences of her life because she felt she was truly contributing to something important in the world. Everyone had the opportunity to plant and dig holes. The physical experience of planting is very much a team-building activity, as well as a chance to reconnect students with nature. We made a sign that said "Canto do Canisius" - which means Canisius' Corner in Portuguese. All the students and teachers took photos in front of it and could not wait to come back next year to see how they had grown.
SINAL continues to restore and protect the Atlantic Forest through both our Assisted Natural Regeneration experiment and our group planting days. As we wrote about in our last report, we are experimenting with an innovative, low-cost method for forest restoration. Our experiment continues as we monitor the growth of all our trees and begin to see what works best for reforestation. With the generous support of our donors, we are able to continue to care for our greenhouse and each week we collect and plant native Atlantic Forest trees. Also, by working with local herbal experts, we are augmenting our medicinal plant demonstrative garden. Part of our mission at SINAL is to conserve the local knowledge of medicinal plants that is being lost on the younger generations.
We continue to do group planting days where we plant trees in honor of an event or person. After the sudden death of an environmental leader, Dalberto Adulis, SINAL hosted a memorial tree planting service for him with his family and friends. It was a beautiful day of remembering his life and positive impact he had on so many people. The day was especially meaningful for his children, who were incredibly touched by the experience and could not believe that they helped plant 100 trees. We hope to continue reforestating our land through memorial tree plantings such as this, as a way to honor the lives of the deceased through restoration of a threatened ecosystem.
In the month of December, we had our first exciting day in the field with our new and experimental reforestation project. In collaboration with Eco Atlantica, we are pioneering a new process called assisted natural regeneration. Instead of having to use thousands of dollars for expensive conservation practices that often fail, we are experimenting with a much more practical, scalable and natural approach.
On December 15, the Eco Atlantica team took a field visit to SINAL for the first day of planting trees. The whole SINAL team participated… volunteers, staff, and local workers. One excellent benefit of assisted natural regeneration is that it does not require a complex methodology like many traditional reforestation practices, meaning it can provide ample job opportunities for local workers. One local youth from the town of Santo Antonio will be learning how to track and monitor the reforestation process.
The day of the visit, hiking up and down the rugged hills of the SINAL property, the Eco Atlantica team showed which were the important species for reforestation that should be nurtured and protected, as well as which were key trees for planting. The theory of natural regeneration is to watch, observe and listen to nature — seeing how nature recovers and springs back and then creating a process that replicates this. We are excited that this project will the beginning of a long time recuperation of our land.
The SINAL team received exciting news in August when we found out we had been chosen as the site for an experimental restoration project as part of an initiative to find innovative and practical forms of reforestation in the Mata Atlântica. The project has various hubs throughout the state of Rio, testing different types of restoration. At SINAL, we will be experimenting with assisted natural regeneration, which is a method for accelerating the growth of young forests and grasslands that were once Mata Atlantica but have been deforested. An advantage to assisted natural regeneration, as compared to traditional reforestation projects, is that it is far more cost-effective and therefore scalable in the long-term. If the Mata Atlântica is to be saved, it cannot rely on just highly technical, resource-heavy projects. Assisted natural regeneration offers that possibility.
At the end of August, a team from Eco-Atlantica visited SINAL with a team of biologists and forest engineers to perform a diagnostic of our property. After measuring the density of tree species on a variety of areas at SINAL, they happily concluded that we would be an excellent fit for the experimental project. The team will return in October for the next day of fieldwork and to begin recuperating soil, planting specific and important tree species, and taking preventive measures against invasive grasses and other potent barriers to recuperation of the forest.
SINAL is thrilled to part of an innovative project such as this one, as it aligns with our goals to both continue our own work of reforesting the valley of Santo Antonio as well as to create new models of practical and scalable restoration.
In order to celebrate the week of Mata Atlantica, one of the most endangered biomas in the world and also a hot spot for biodiversity, on May 30, Sinal do Vale inaugurated our new tree nursery and reforestation project, led by SINAL resident Ryan Vasseur, with a day of tree planting of native Mata Atlantica trees with a group of students from the Brazilian university, PUC. As a simbolic act Sinal Volunteers and PUC students plant trees.
Sinal is part of a group of environmental organization located at these foothills involved in their programmes of conservation are concerned with this prospect and have reached a consensus that a Rio “Green Belt” is needed to contain the urban encroachment, consolidating the Mountains` buffer area, protecting the remnant biodiversity of the Atlantic rainforest one of the world`s most critically endangered hotspots. Considering the importance of water resources and cloud formation the mountains offer, this is an ever more important obligation. Each tree planted makes a difference.
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