Teaching for Trees
Teaching a weekend course on Tropical Forest Restoration in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in exchange for trees being planted for WeForest's Atlantic Forest Project, Ricardo Cesar, WeForest's Brazil Country Representative, does not shy away from dedicating his free time to engage with over 20 graduate and undergraduate students, spark lively discussions and plant more trees!

The weekend course was organized by Ecocasa, a small non-profit organization which is composed mostly of volunteer undergraduate students.´Though a great initiative, I had noticed how EcoCasa was struggling to start working with sustainability and restoration and we decided to work together, joining my experience with their support for planting trees. A win-win for students and forests´, Ricardo explains.

The students had backgrounds in, amongst others, Environmental Engineering, Agronomy, Biology and even Economics and theoretical discussions on the history, practice and legislation of ecological restoration in Brazil then turned into real practical exercises.

Ricardo: ´In one of the exercises I simulated that I was a landowner. The students then had to propose a plan to improve the productivity and ecological benefits of my land. It was very constructive since we could see the conflict of views between students and landowners, and negotiate trade-offs. Besides being fun, it was the closest that many of them had ever been to talking with a ´real´ small farmer´.

Finally, the course ended by practicing using open-licence geoprocessing software to map areas required for restoration by the Brazilian law.

It was exactly this combination of theory, practical exercises and software practice that made it a valuable course for the students: ´As a geographer, I considered the course to be very enriching. Even in such a short time I’ve learned a lot about methods for forest restoration. The course provided rich reference materials, besides practical activities to consolidate learning. I would certainly like to participate in similar courses in the future´, as expressed by Álvaro Aurélio da Matta, a Graduate Geographer. With this, Ricardo has shown us that educating the local community literally helps plant trees.