Remembrance Forests in Brazil: 200,000 Trees for 200,000 COVID-19 Victims


Human Wrongs Watch

21 January 2021 (UNEP)* — As Brazil grapples with the COVID-19 crisis and rising rates of deforestation, some are fighting back to restore the natural environment while honouring the memory of their lost loved ones.

Brazil_1_PHOTO-2020-12-15-16-25-39

Photo: RBMA / 18 Jan 2021

Bereaved families and civil society organizations, with the support of the Atlantic Forest Biosphere Reserve and the Atlantic Forest Restoration Pact, which include some of Brazil’s most respected restoration scientists, launched a tree-planting, wildlife conservation and restoration drive on 12 December 2020 to honour the memories of those who have lost their lives to COVID-19 and to thank health workers.

The Pact is helping restoration efforts across 17 states in Brazil.

Icapuí, Ceará State, Dec 2020.
Icapuí, Ceará State, Dec 2020. Photo: Apremavi Dec 2020

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is helping the Remembrance Forests campaign to raise its profile and visibility in line with the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030. Among other things, it will be engaging with civil society organizations to ensure that the native tree seedlings are properly nurtured to maturity.

This is a great initiative because it shows multiple dimensions of restoration – namely that restoration is about healing our relationship with nature and at the same time it’s a healing experience for ourselves.

Tim Christophersen, head of UNEP’s Nature for Climate Branch

The goal is to plant 200,000 trees in memory of the roughly 200,000 lives lost to COVID-19 in Brazil. The initiative will run until World Environment Day on 5 June.

“This action is very meaningful due to the fact that trees are life and a connection with mother nature,” says Rafael da Silva de Lima from São Paulo whose father, Reginaldo Alves de Lima, and cousin, Edna Maria de Almeida, were victims of the virus.

Icapuí, Ceará State, Dec 2020.

 

Icapuí, Ceará State, Dec 2020. Photo: Fundação Brasil Cidadão

The organizers will ensure that a diversity of native tree species from the Atlantic forest region are planted, including Inga sp., guava (Psidium guajava), Jacaranda (Jacaranda caroba), Ipe (Tebabuia sp.), grumixama (Eugenia brasiliensis), and several species from the botanic families Myrtaceae, Malvaceae, Lauraceae and Fabaceae.

Initially, the plan was to plant 6,500 trees on a four-hectare site in Rio de Janeiro State, which is also the habitat of a tiny endangered monkey called the golden lion tamarin. The monkey is found only in the Atlantic Coastal Forest in southeastern Brazil. The Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado (AMLD), a non-governmental organization, is preparing the site.

Later on, more than a dozen sites in the Atlantic Forest Biosphere Reserve and in Pontal do Paranapanema, in the western part of São Paulo State, will be planted by APOENA, a civil society organization that works on restoring riparian forests in the Parana river basin.

“This is a great initiative because it shows multiple dimensions of restoration – namely that restoration is about healing our relationship with nature and at the same time it’s a healing experience for ourselves,” says Tim Christophersen, head of UNEP’s Nature for Climate Branch. “It’s not just about planting trees for carbon benefits.”

Rewilding

AMLD works with partners to protect the golden lion tamarin monkeys. Centuries of deforestation have reduced their forest habitat to only 2 per cent of its original area, in patches too small to support a healthy population. It has already achieved some notable successes by reintroducing captive-bred animals and restoring corridors linking forest fragments, resulting in a dramatic increase in the wild populations.

In 2018, an unprecedented yellow fever epidemic in southeastern Brazil killed many people and reduced the golden lion tamarin population from 3,600 to 2,500.  Now, COVID-19 is threatening the people who work to conserve them and their habitat. It is unknown if the virus can be spread to the monkeys.

Icapuí, Ceará State, Dec 2020. Photo: Fundação Brasil Cidadão

 

Icapuí, Ceará State, Dec 2020. Photo: Fundação Brasil Cidadão

Meanwhile, APOENA is restoring the habitat of the black lion tamarin monkey, another subspecies, in forest fragments in western São Paulo State. These forest restoration efforts also contribute to increasing habitat connectivity for jaguars, pumas, ocelots and tapirs.

AMLD aims to protect and connect enough forest to see, by 2025, at least 2,000 golden lion tamarins living in at least 25,000 hectares (62,000 acres) of forest. This will involve the planting of forest corridors to reconnect forest fragments. The effort involves local communities to raise awareness and ensure ownership of the restoration and protection of their forests. 

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030, led by the United Nations Environment Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and partners covers terrestrial as well as coastal and marine ecosystems. A global call to action, it will draw together political support, scientific research and financial muscle to massively scale up restoration. Learn more.

*SOURCE: UNEP. Go to ORIGINAL.

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