Interchange of philosophies and experiences Brazil/Australia
The restoration of a degraded ecosystem is a complex and evolving process. The exchange of information and practical experience is vital to increase the effectiveness of efforts made to preserve and restore ecosystems.
In April 2002 a workshop was held on Santa Catarina Island, Brazil for Australians and Brazilians to exchange information and practical experiences. The Australian participants also had the opportunity to visit some projects in Rio de Janeiro.
This exchange is an inaugural step in order to maintain a flow of information and skills between these two countries of the Southern Hemisphere. This initiative will contribute to a collective analysis of environmental issues and may provide solutions to the shared problems in the field of ecosystem restoration.
Santa Catarina Island with a population of 190,000 is part of the city of Florianópolis. It covers an area of 424 km² with a variety of natural environments such as mangroves, lagoons, dunes, beaches and rainforest.
The occupation of the island by Portuguese settlers from the Azores Islands started in the 18th century. It is the largest island on the southern coast of Brazil, situated in the transition zone between tropical and subtropical zones. Originally it was approximately 90% covered in Atlantic rainforest. Today a large part of the old growth forest has been destroyed, with fragments remaining in the most isolated parts of the island.
Rio de Janeiro
The city of Rio de Janeiro, famous for its beauty, music and beaches and home to approximately six million residents, has some interesting experiences in ecosystem restoration.
One of the most impressive projects is the Atlantic rainforest reforestation program. By March 2002 nearly three million seedlings have been planted in a total area of 1,300 hectares. Results obtained to date show that the program has had good outcomes, such as reduction of erosion and landsides, and an increase of biodiversity in the area. The impressive results can be seen in the before and after photos of “morro Dois irmãos”.
Another important reforestation project, visited by the australians was the Tijuca National Park. A huge area of 3,200 hectares situated in the middle of Rio de Janeiro. In the mid 19-century the area was being heavily used for coffee farming and the original rainforest was reduced to small remnants. Approximately 140 years ago the area was reforested with native species to improve the city’s catchment. Currently there are well- maintained Atlantic rainforest areas within Tijuca National Park. The park has more than 60km of walking tracks, an environmental education centre primarily for school groups.