SINAL do Vale, located 52km from downtown Rio de Janeiro is a 200 hectare property and hub for reforestation, education of local children, organic gardening, and global leadership. A small project team at SINAL have taken on the great task of rewilding the Atlantic Rainforest. Their aim is to plant 10,000 species of trees native to the Atlantic by the time Brazil commemorates the Atlantic Forest in May 27, 2015.
As ever, money talks and half of SINAL do Vale was deforested long ago for traditional cash crops such as sugar cane and coffee. The larger Atlantic Rainforest area is considered one of the most diverse and endangered ecosystems in existence. It contains 20,000 plant species, 450 tree species, and 2200 species of birds and animals many of which are endemic, meaning that you will find them nowhere else in the world. It is also home to 126 million people and the major world cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. These extreme pressures combined have left only 8.5% of the original forest.
Young saplings taking root!
This project was inspired by the concept of ‘rewilding’. A relatively new word, rewilding is a mass restoration of ecosystems that have been lost through pressure by human civilization. This form of positive environmentalism seeks to give large parts of nature back to the world in abandoned spaces that are no longer being used for agriculture.
Cut trunks of banana flowers, full of water they keep small trees watered in times of heat.
Nature has a phenomenal capacity to enrich all of our lives. SINAL intend to share the abundance of nature with local school children and the community of Santo Antônio which resides below the SINAL property. This fascinating ecosystem is home to many animals such as jaguars, toucans, capybaras (the world’s biggest rodent), and many other species.
“It is our belief that by giving them more wild spaces these species will thrive. We need to help re-plant trees, take down the old fences, step back, and let nature regenerate.”
There are other rewilding projects all over the world that are already underway and have had great success. Trees for Life in Scotland is seeking to restore natural forests and wildlife to 1,000 square miles of the ancient Caledonian Forest.
SINAL’s plan for the future is to plant hectare by hectare to revive and restore nature. There was once a great waterfall on the property at SINAL that was lost partly because of deforestation. SINAL believe that the pattern of ecological loss can be reversed and through planting trees and restoring diversity, the water will return along with nature once more.
A big thank you to Ryan Vasseur from the SINAL reforestation project team for sharing your story, we look forward to catching up with you in May 2015!
If you want to learn more on rewilding, check out this TED Talk by rewilding champion and English writer George Monbiot: