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Seeds as a path to forest restoration and inclusive entrepreneurship

Humanize, alongside partners, supports initiatives that contribute to the re-articulation and rescue of community seed networks

Seeds are a priority issue in the Institute’s activities. This leading role starts from the idea that occupation and deforestation in Brazilian biomes has been growing, which results in serious environmental problems and reduces genetic variability – putting native forest species at risk. In this scenario, there is a growing need to encourage the production of seedlings and seeds for ecological restoration, forest replacement and urban afforestation.

Among the challenges in the area of seeds is the lack of preparation of many field professionals in relation to the technical and legal context. This interferes with performance and prevents a better development of issues such as: marking forestry matrices, processing, drying, storage and the collection itself. Other conflicting issues are the absence of seedlings for ecosystem restoration purposes, the lack of training, the lack of seeds and the low seed technology in many commercial seed-plots.

Faced with obstacles, Humanize, alongside partners, supports initiatives that contribute to the re-articulation and rescue of community seed networks. We understand that possible solutions to promote this subject are: collaborating in the formation, training and assistance of collectors, as well as seed managers and small rural producers; promoting the mapping of parent trees and the production of seeds on a large scale (for the main species of the biomes); and supporting knowledge exchanges and germplasm banks (enabling the conservation of genetic material from parent trees). 

In its portfolio, Humanize has initiatives that can contribute to transforming the lives of people who have seeds as part of their family income and as an important element in the sustainable development of the territory in which they live. In the 2019-2021 cycle, the Sustainable Use and Entrepreneurship and Socio-Environmental Impact Businesses programs stand out as determining factors in supporting initiatives that work within this issue.

In the same period, the performance of these two programs, in line with the efforts of partners that are present in our ecosystem, contributed to the generation of results such as: more than a hundred new collectors and about two hundred people trained in the area of seeds. With a recent presence in the chain, Humanize supports projects especially in Pará, Bahia and Rio de Janeiro.

Focusing on internal strategic goals, the topic of Seeds mainly touches on the goal of supporting the structuring of seed production networks to align supply and demand for forest restoration. There is also the goal of fostering social impact businesses and inclusive entrepreneurship in order to strengthen existing businesses and support the creation of new inclusive businesses.

As an example of our performance on the subject, we highlight here the Arboretum. This program is supported by Humanize and is an inter-institutional initiative, that is, it brings together actors related to research, standardization and extension. All participate in a cycle that goes from collecting seeds, producing seedlings and planting for restoration and sustainable use of forest species to field actions. At all stages there is a technical and logistical support structure, which generates conservation, restoration and enhancement of forest biodiversity.

Arboretum aims at expanding the seed network and promoting the training of new collectors to access the market, in addition to structuring the cocoa chain with Agroforestry Systems (SAFs) – promoting reforestation, technical assistance and access to rural credit. However, the program faces problems such as the unavailability of quality forest seeds for reforestation. Seeking possible solutions, the project works to expand the network of seed collectors and areas restored with cocoa SAF; which generates income for seed collectors (family farmers, indigenous and settlers) and small cocoa farmers.

The results of this appear in Itamaraju and Teixeira de Freitas, cities that are located in the extreme south of Bahia and that have seed laboratories, seed-plots and spaces for environmental education; working with over 500 species of seeds. At the end of 2020, Arboretum released information indicating that the program has 47 regular collectors and that it acquired 1,601 kg of seeds in the year.

As for the program’s involvement with cocoa, there is an initial implementation of SAFs in progress through a partnership with the “One Tree Planted” project, which means that cocoa can coexist with other crops and enhance opportunities for collectors and farmers. From the work with Cocoa, 44 families have already been assisted with the planting of native seedlings in 31.57 hectares. Each of them received cocoa seedlings (554 per hectare) and began implementing the SAFs in June 2021. A training focused on cocoa is also in progress – and will be held remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Arboretum Program implements the seeds component, while WWF-Brazil, which coordinates the project, implements the cocoa component.

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