Brazil resolves to restore its ecosystems

05 February 2013 | News story

After numerous national workshops over 13 months, the Ecological Restoration Initiative’s action plan has been established to combat ecosystem degradation caused by productive activities, especially agricultural livestock, in the country.

The last remnants of Brazil’s coastal shrubland, for example, are in danger of being lost, and are among the country’s biomes most in need of restoration. To save these areas, officials are employing a process of ecological restoration, an approach that can return the structure, function, diversity and the dynamics of an original ecosystem to a degraded ecosystem.

Of course, many initiatives and institutions in Brazil are already working on this issue. But what IUCN’s office in Brasilia found is that the potential and the scope of this work would be improved by better coordination among them. Thus, a proposal to create an alliance was born, which in addition to having a mission statement and common objectives, now has an action plan.

But how does something as complex as ecological restoration happen? Frederico Machado, Program Officer with IUCN, explains that restoration processes can take different forms and require different periods of time to take effect. One process, for example, is simply to isolate a degraded area and wait for nature to restore vegetation naturally. Machado notes that this is possible in areas where there are still forests with species native to the area, including native seed species as well as native animals, which promote natural restoration processes. Another method, which takes less time if it is planned carefully, is planting primary species along with secondary species.

This method also requires soil management and removal of invasive species, among other silvicultural measures.
“In order to decide what restoration strategy is more viable, it is necessary to study the area closely and to adequately analyze the conditions,” Machado said. He is optimistic about the implementation of the proposed Ecological Restoration Initiative and action plan: “We have the capacity, the knowledge, the organizational interest and the legal and political atmosphere to act. Added to this is the experience of IUCN in restoration, through projects implemented around the world.”

"The challenge now is finding ways to facilitate the implementation of the initiative, from involving the main national and state political actors to achieving financing for carrying it out,” Machado said.
The Ecological Restoration Initiative is a proposal of the Brazilian office of IUCN together with Atlantic Forest Restoration Pact, The Socioenvironmental Institute (ISA), the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), the Brazilian Environmental Ministry (MMA), the Northeastern Center for Environmental Research (Cepan), and Fundo Vale.

Contact: frederico.machado@iucn.org