No one-size fits all approach for Restoration in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest
WeForest / Carolina Giudice Badari – Map Ricardo Cesar
Brazil is one of the few tropical countries in the world with a national law that supports forest restoration in agricultural areas.  

The ´Forest Code´ requires the restoration of 21 million hectares of native vegetation, an area almost as large as the United Kingdom. Besides this, Brazil has a national commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with 43% by 2030. This makes Brazil an important actor in fighting global climate change and using forest restoration and habitat protection to protect the biodiversity in the country.

Since 2016, WeForest has been working with a team of international research institutes and universities to undertake applied research on the benefits of ecological restoration in Brazil.  Postgraduate student Carolina Giudice Badari has been studying the ecological aspects of forest restoration in the Pontal do Paranapanema, Southeast Brazil. Carolina’s work involves creating an ecological baseline to measure the future benefits of planting ecological corridors.  These corridors connect various patches of restored and protected areas aiming to improve habitat for wildlife. The baseline will also be used to define the ecological goals for our restoration actions based on comparisons with nearby conserved forests. The project is executed in partnership with the Institute for Ecological Research (IPE), Brazil.

Carolina mentions that the motivation for the intensive fieldwork comes from her cheerful field team and through her contact with the community landowners:

Each visit to the farmers was an unique experience of sharing and mainly, learning. We had opportunities to hear stories from the region and about the farmers’ lifes that reflect a long history of migration and fighting for land rights. We were always very warmly received, most of the time with hot coffee and freshly handmade cake. They lacked technical assistance in the past, but they are full of empirical wisdom and willingness to work in their land. An inspiration for our team!”.

WeForest restoration sites in purple. Lower left: Location of Pontal do Paranapanema region in São Paulo State, Brazil.

Carolina and her field team in one of the abandoned pastures where native tree planting will be carried out. Note the thick layer of grasses and the few trees where it used to be forest decades ago.

Carolina has now finished her field campaign, measuring and identifying more than 1,900 trees and 5,000 saplings in planned restoration areas.  Furthermore, she has researched agroforestry systems that contribute to the livelihoods of the local communities. The data collected is now in the final stages of analysis and is already showing some interesting results. For example, the vegetation profiles seem very different between areas, despite being in close proximity and surrounded by the same type of land uses. This is very important news for WeForest and its partners, as it means that, to continue connecting forest fragments in this region, there is no “one size fits all” approach to restoration efforts and site-specific adaptive management will be crucial.

Carolina and IPE staff visiting an agroforestry system on one of the farmer’s land.

Carolina and IPE staff measuring forest structure and diversity.