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Forest inventory and youth training: legacy of the Rio Doce basin

The impact of the disaster in Mariana in November 2015 remains present in the lives of people directly or indirectly affected. 39 municipalities along the Rio Doce and its tributaries. But it's also true that another story begins to be built. A story that doesn't want to erase the past, but build a more sustainable future for the region.

Through various projects, Renova carries out actions that will remain a legacy when the foundation completes itssocio-environmental repair actions. The idea is that, when this occurs, there will be many people and organizations capable of continuing projects and plans that are, at the same time, economically viable and structuring for the development of the region.

Seeds of Life

A project that has a great reach is the Sementes e Mudas Network., which begins its work to serve degraded areas in the Rio Doce basin in the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo. In this program start, the objective is to develop seedlings and seeds of native species from the Atlantic Forest for therecovery of 5 a thousand springs and 40 thousand hectares from areas that were not directly affected by the Fundão dam tailings. But the idea is to go further, creating a large production chain for long-term environmental restoration by promoting, thus, opportunities to generate permanent employment and income.

Forest inventory and youth training: legacy of the Rio Doce basin
Seeds and Seedlings Network launched at the end of 2019 for forest recovery. credit: Leonardo Morais/Renova Foundation

The Seed Network encompasses seed collectors and seedling producers e, in addition to providing for Renova, will also be able to work freely with other interested parties.. Among the main objectives of the initiative is the development of a sustainable market for the valorization of native species, that serves as an example to be replicated in other parts of the country.

Among the partnerships already signed is with the Freedom Settlement, in the city of Periquito (MG). there live 33 families settled by the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (incra) and another six, awaiting the completion of their processes. "With this partnership, the wish of the MST (Landless Workers Movement), who works in the area, is to produce and at the same time protect nature. Produce water and food sustainably”, explains Agnaldo Batista, coordinator of the MST production sector in Minas and, complete: "The Rio Doce basin suffered 200 years of environmental degradation, which only got worse with the collapse of the dam".

In the nurseries of Settlement Liberdade, 11 native species of the Atlantic Forest. "They are divided into two ecosystem functions: covering ones, to grow fast in poor soils and form crowns to fight grass, which is an exotic and invasive species, and the species of diversity, that will last longer, getting at 100, 200 or more years and guaranteeing the perpetuation of the forest", account, optimistically, Leandro Abraham, forest engineer and socio-environmental analyst at the Renova Foundation. According to him, the work ends up being made easier thanks to the organization of the families and the good production capacity. "We have great potential. We currently have around 700 thousand seedlings in six nurseries throughout the state", informs Leandro.

Forest inventory and youth training: legacy of the Rio Doce basin
In the Periquito Nursery, plants are produced to keep invasive species and noble trees away., who will live for decades. - credit: William Dutra

The Liberty Settlement seeks entities and companies that have environmental liabilities or recovery initiatives and that may be interested in signing an agreement. An important example of the group's work is the agreement established with Companhia Energética de Minas Gerais, and Cemig, which will serve to reduce the environmental liability accumulated in several works by the state-owned Minas Gerais state that caused deforestation. Areas in different regions of the state will be reforested, adding 116 hectares. Partnerships are also being established for the creation and development of other nurseries.

Mapped forest heritage

Perhaps one of the most important legacies to be left by the Renova Foundation will be the Forest Inventory. It is an unprecedented study being carried out on the conditions of vegetation and soil in 86.715 km² of the Rio Doce basin. for the project, data will be collected from plant individuals, What: height, diameter at breast height, species, between others.

Forest inventory and youth training: legacy of the Rio Doce basin
QRCode that is installed on the trees cataloged for the Forest Inventory. credit: Renova Foundation Archive

This will be themost complete Forest Inventory ever carried out in Brazil and should be completed by the end of next year. (2020).  The complex task is being carried out with the fundamental collaboration of rural producers. The study's conclusions will serve as a basis for future environmental recovery actions in the region.

"The inventory is very important to know which species occur naturally and which adapt best to each type of environment, like hilltops, hillside areas or areas susceptible to seasonal flooding, for example. In this way, we will have knowledge of the reference environments so that we can compare the progress of the forest restoration process, based on natural regeneration environments at different stages of ecological succession”, explains Leandro Abrahão, socio-environmental analyst at the Renova Foundation.

Sharing knowledge and experiences

Finally, the project “The future of Rio Doce is us”, of Formation of Young Leaders, is part of Renova's agenda for the Rio Doce basin. The project's main objectives are the engagement and empowerment of communities, through your youth, in the construction of solutions to improve socio-environmental quality in all territories impacted by the Fundão dam failure. Actions are organized, in partnership with Renova, by Instituto Elos, which is an organization with experience in actions in regions of high social vulnerability to strengthen people's ability to transform their own reality.

In 2018, Instituto Elos selected 90 young people of 22 municipalities along the Rio Doce basin to participate in educational training and leadership processes. Today, 23 projects are being implemented. Among the selected projects, there are actions for reforestation and revitalization of springs, cultural interventions, professional development of young people in situations of social vulnerability, black entrepreneurship and art workshops.

They act with articulation actions, mobilization, training and engagement that contribute to leverage the sustainable development of the Rio Doce basin. In the deployment process, the groups were advised by the teams of the Renova Foundation and Instituto Elos. It is important to highlight that the projects were chosen by the young people themselves according to their realities and needs in each territory and community.

Among the projects contemplated are several that rethink the care with environmental recovery, How to Revive Nascentes.

Forest inventory and youth training: legacy of the Rio Doce basin
“Tumiritinga youth group (MG) created the group Reviva Nascentes with the support of Instituto Elos”. Credit: Lucas Santos

Aimed at young residents of the 1º de Junho Settlement, in Tumiritinga (MG), the idea goes beyond the work of recovering springs, promoting community task forces for the creation of Agroforestry Systems - the SAFs -, that seek to integrate nature preservation with agricultural production activities. As Jamesson Alves Pereira explains, from 27 years old, one of the three coordinators and creators of Reviva Nascentes: "The project is very cool, because it messes with people's heads, the way they look at nature, for water and springs. It's a very transformative process".

Jamesson, as well as other young people who are part of the various projects supported by Renova and Instituto Elos, believes that the scope and dimension of activities have the capacity to be greater: “the act of surrounding a spring will not only help the community, but it will help the whole world", says the young man. He also analyzes other benefits obtained from this collective work: "The project is giving us strength. Through it, people come together, knowing more about each other, I think this is too good", he says, enthusiastic.

Everything really gets easier when you understand that striving for the common good is the best way to achieve a full and sustainable life for yourself.

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