Activists replant Brazil’s coastal rainforests one seed at a time

World Today

While Brazil has been critical of the U.S. decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accords, environmentalists say the country can be doing more to protect its own natural wonders. One group is trying to do just that.

CGTN’s Lucrecia Franco reports.

Follow Lucrecia C. Franco on Twitter @LucreciaFranco

Brazil’s coastal rainforest once covered more than 1,000,000 square kilometers, stretching along the Atlantic coastline. Today, less than 10 percent remains intact, making it even more threatened than its more famous neighbor, the Amazon.

Only small patches survive in reserves like Tingua, located in the north of the state of Rio de Janeiro. One NGO is trying to expand what remains by planting hundreds of native tree species on the hillsides. It’s hard work that is already making a much needed difference.

“82 percent of the country’s population lives on the coast, and they depend on environmental services,” according to Helio Vanderlei, founder of Onda Verde. “So our mission is to educate, communicate and take action.”

Vanderlei started the group, whose name translates to ‘Green Wave’ in English, as a local effort to preserve and expand a forest that is one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, second only to the Amazon.

Forest cover is essential for cooling the air in what is one of Rio’s hottest micro climates. So to expand that cover, the NGO has already planted 1,00,000 trees and 500 seedlings.

The group works to engage as many people as possible, using activities like nature photography to get people out and exploring the forest.

Through Onda Verde, the community is learning how the forest serves a vital function. Springs that were dry only three years ago are now once again flowing because of the trees that were planted.

Vanderlei, however, is worried about the bigger picture: moves by Brazil to follow the example of the United States, and drop its international environmental commitments.

“There is a crisis, and that is because Brazil signed a paper – the Paris Agreement – but does not keep its promises. And the U.S. doesn’t believe in climate change, and doesn’t sign anything. They are the same. The only difference is a paper.”

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