This Tuesday, December 13, Latin America received great news. Under the Convention on Biological Diversity, which takes place in Canada, the United Nations (UN) recognized the work of forest restoration in the Atlantic Forestofficially naming it Flagship Global Restoration Initiative of the Decade.
The nomination recognizes restoration as an activity that goes beyond planting trees. Because? Because it promotes multiple benefits for man and nature. In a context of climate change, taking care of the forest is essential to cope with the impacts. This work is led by the Trinational Network for the Restoration of the Atlantic Forest and the Pact for the Restoration of the Atlantic Forest (PACTO), which brings together various entities in the region.
The Atlantic Forest is one of the green pockets with the greatest diversity of life on the planet. It stretches along the eastern coast of Brazil and penetrates inland towards Argentina – in the forest of Paraná – and towards Paraguayan. More than 148 million people live and live socially, culturally and economically thanks to the environmental services provided by this special jungle, including energy, soil protection and water. This forest contains 7% of plant species and 5% of vertebrate animal species in the world.
“This UN recognition is a doorway to new opportunities to promote the restoration of the Atlantic Forest and generate greater benefits. The trinational action of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay is a differential in our way of working. It is thanks to this multi-institutional construction and allied to several organizations that we have made important advances in recent years”, estimated Lucía Lazzari, coordinator of terrestrial landscapes at Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina, one of the organizations representing the Trinational Network for Restoration. of the Atlantic Forest in Argentina.
Secondly, Lazzari added: “In order to lead and foster real processes of conservation and restoration of the Atlantic Forest, our jungle missionary– it is essential that local authorities are informed and involved. They are the real agents of change”.
For this historic nomination, the UN created a committee made up of scientists and researchers from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN ). .
The final result has been confirmed by the main UN Decade agencies, the Environment Program (UNEP) and the FAO. More than 20 evaluation criteria were taken into account, such as: the involvement of local communities in decision-making; coalition building; replicability; growth potential; and contributing to international emission reduction agreements.
This UN designation recognizes not only the legacy of protecting the Atlantic Forest, but also initiatives that align with the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration Action Plan. “Restoration is an inclusive system that works in a diverse and long-term way, involving various institutions. Restoring is much more than planting trees: it is a commitment to the quality of life of thousands of people,” said Taruhim Quadros, conservation analyst for WWF Brazil and representative of the Trinational Network for Restoration of the Atlantic Forest.
For her part, Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP, said: “Around the world, our forests are under siege. Restoring the Atlantic Forest, through the involvement of local communities, is a powerful reminder that nature can heal when given the opportunity, and offers enormous benefits in the process.”
Restoration initiatives in the Atlantic Forest also promote species conservation, increase landscape connectivity, improve water quality, environmental education, local community participation and well-being, among other social and environmental. Both collectives also bring initiatives to raise funds, monitor the quality of restored forests, and build partnerships for large-scale, long-term restoration.
The Atlantic Forest is a green lung that crosses three South American nations. It is made up of 15 ecoregions, in which unique species of plants and animals abound, such as the jaguar, tapir, anteater and jacutinga. It originally covered 1,345,300 km2. However, over the past 40 years it has been drastically reduced due to deforestation, urbanization and production: today, only 17% of the original forests remain.
The process of degradation and deforestation of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil began almost 500 years ago, with the overexploitation of wood species that occurred during different economic cycles. While challenges remain for the conservation of the ecoregion, landscape restoration is essential to increase forest cover and improve people’s quality of life.
PACT is a coalition of more than 300 multi-sector organizations with the goal of restoring the Atlantic Forest. For its part, the Trinational Network for the Restoration of the Atlantic Forest is a multisectoral movement that covers the trinational ecoregion of Alto Paraná in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, with 30 organizations. The members of these entities have more than 30 years of experience in the restoration.
Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina has been working in the Misiones jungle for over 20 years. There, more than 345 hectares have been restored, with more than 150,000 plants of 40 native species, in Andresito and San Pedro. More than 115 families and the Family Farm Schools of the territory have been involved in these actions.