The long, slow retreat of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest has been reversed thanks to Laury Cullen Jr. who is protecting its unique wildlife and engaging local farmers in conservation.
Historically, the Mata Atlântica covered 1.2 million km², about 12 per cent of Brazil. When Laury Cullen Jr. moved to Pontal do Paranapanema in São Paulo State 26 years ago, nine tenths of the once mighty Atlantic Forest had fallen. Cleared for timber and farms, this came at a devastating cost to the region’s wildlife.
We are extremely proud to see how our activities on the ground have effectively changed the landscape and contributed to additional cover in the Atlantic rainforest.
Working with small landholders, the Brazilian forestry engineer is proving that agroforestry can revive degraded soil while saving the forest and fauna, including the endangered black lion tamarin, jaguars, tapirs and ocelets. His organization Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas has been reforesting at an average of 100 hectares a year, or more than a million trees.
In 2011, the largest reforestation corridor in Brazil was completed, a 700-hectare green link between the state’s two main remnants of forest, and Cullen continues to expand the work. New corridors connecting forest fragments and wildlife populations are tended by hundreds of local families who earn a better living from the intermingled trees, wildlife and crops than from agriculture alone. Incomes are estimated to have increased by 18 per cent.
Cullen’s approach of combining landscape restoration with new income sources for farmers has become one of Brazil’s most quoted community-based conservation achievements, a new paradigm for modern humanity living in harmony with the natural world.
Tonnes of carbon the 700 hectares of new forest will store when fully grown
Families earning a better living from the integrated corridors and islands of forest
Annual increase in the number of participating farmers