Public and private organizations that create income without destroying tropical forests are fundamental to their preservation around the world.
When we think of forests, two images come to mind: untouched nature, with no human presence, or a scenario of destruction, with fires and deforestation. The first seems economically unfeasible, and the second has already proved its unfeasibility for the planet, as it aggravates the effects of climate change and threatens our biodiversity. The good news is that the middle path exists: in tropical forests around the globe there are great examples of solutions that create income while preserving the forest. It is time we paid them closer attention.
The whole world is looking at the Amazon, because it has already realized that preserving it is, literally, a matter of life or death for humanity on Earth. However, this type of biome is not unique to South America, and exchanging experiences with those who live in other forests in Africa and Asia can help us see ways to solve the situation here. The documentary Forest Partners crosses these three continents, showing the economic potential of sustainable and inclusive production systems in tropical forests.
The film premiered in Brazil during ClimaX SP, a side event of COP 26 held by the Mundo Que Queremos Institute, and also at COP itself, in Glasgow. The official release is scheduled for early 2022, and everyone should watch it to rid their minds of the two images above and replace them with others that are more sustainable and interesting. Directed by filmmaker Fred Rahal Mauro and written by Juliana Tinoco, the film is produced by Partnerships for Forests (P4F), the British government’s global program to accelerate business and promote initiatives that have the potential to protect or restore forests.
Through image and sound, the P4F film shows several examples of economically viable and environmentally sustainable ecosystems that are thriving amid the planet’s rainforests and should serve as an example for everyone, especially at a time when everyone is talking about the green economy. These are successful innovations that prove that the combination of technology and traditional knowledge works very well, even to restore landscapes that have undergone considerable degradation, like a good share of the Amazon.
According to Marcio Sztutman, the director of the P4F Latin America program, products like this can show investors that it is not so risky to invest in green businesses – quite the opposite, it is much more sustainable, including economically and in the long term. He’s right. No one else should invest in businesses that encourage destruction and those who are still profiting from it have a lot to lose in the near future, besides undermining all efforts to contain the advance of climate change, the effects of which keep appearing to remind us we cannot continue with the same old development model. “It is possible to conserve nature and make money at the same time and this is what our film shows,” says Sztutman.
The projects shown in the film are special not only because they work, but because they can be replicated, respecting the specificities and needs of each region. One of them is the work of the Vale do Amanhecer Farmer Cooperative (Coopavam), which buys Brazil nuts directly from indigenous peoples residing in indigenous reserves in the Northwest of Mato Grosso and parts of Rondônia, creating income for these groups, who help preserve over 1 million hectares of lush forest. The nuts are processed and sold for use in food, health products, and cosmetics in local and regional markets. The initiative has been very successful and, with the support of P4F, has advanced on new markets.
Director Fred Rahal Mauro thinks this is the time to show those who do not yet see the middle way that it exists, works, and is the way out for everyone – both traditional indigenous communities and cattle ranchers, entrepreneurs, and investors. “It’s not one side versus the other. We have a common goal.”
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