The start of the programme in 2008 saw the distribution of over 70,000 seeds to local producers. These seeds were then out planted to fields from the nurseries and had flourished by winter 2009, further growth in the programme in 2009 resulted in the distribution of a further 230,000 seeds.
The next stage in this programme has been to ensure educational resources which have been created and provided in Portuguese. Twenty-four nurseries have now been established and 108 producers have been trained in nursery management. In total over 340,000 agricultural, and 70,000 conservation trees have been planted in conjunction with our partner organisations and local people.
São Paulo state, one of the richest regions of Brazil, would seemingly appear to be in less need of assistance, however, there still exists a vast disparity between the richest and the poorest people. Sixty-four percent of the wealth lies with just twenty percent of the population whilst the poorest twenty percent of the population has only a two percent share in its riches.
São Paulo state is a region of vast farmlands, alongside small plots of land owned by farmers who overwork and exhaust their land to generate an income and sustain themselves and their families. Brazil, a country of contrasts, is also one of high deprivation, with many of its people suffering daily. Although there have been significant attempts by the government to address these issues and change the laws governing reforestation of the land, these laws come with no financial incentive or support making it an impossible and implausible reality for most ordinary farmers and landowners.
To cultivate the main crop, sugar cane, São Paulo state has been stripped of its rainforest. To cultivate sugar cane effectively thousands of miles of land are burned annually. When the land is exhausted cattle are moved in, which further destroys the land. This level of damage leads to the erosion of many plant and animal species. Only seven percent of the rainforest in this area remains today. It is vital for the long-term future of Brazil that investment in sustainable farming methods and reforestation of the land continues.
To address the crisis now faced in the region, poverty in rural areas, damage to the environment and low levels of agricultural production, a long-term programme has been introduced.
The issues are now being addressed at the grassroots level, with much of the programme focused on enabling local people to find solutions and further develop local capacity to address problems that are specific to this region, often characterising common environmental challenges faced in Brazil.