How plantations are helping regenerate the Cerrado



Posted on 30 April 2014  | 
Cattle with rancher in the Cerrado
© Edward KrasnyEnlarge
Mato Gross do Sul, Brazil – Plantations in the right places can help biodiversity, increase cattle production, fuel a more sustainable steel industry and improve livelihoods for neighbouring communities. These were some of the real-life examples showcased on a recent study tour to the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, as part of the New Generation Plantations (NGP) platform.

Set up by WWF in 2007, NGP brings together companies, government forest agencies and conservationists from around the world to explore, share and promote better ways of planning and managing plantations. Field visits, presentations and public meetings brought NGP participants into contact with beef and dairy farmers, the charcoal and steel industry, small-scale community producers, beekeepers, and other stakeholders from the forestry sector.

Plantations play an increasingly significant role in Mato Grosso do Sul, which is part of the Cerrado savannah – a hotspot for biodiversity and home to around 8% of the world’s mammals. Almost half the Cerrado’s 200 million hectares of grasslands and forests have been converted to agriculture, mainly cattle pasture. But vast areas of pasture are now so degraded that they’re virtually useless for raising cattle.

Field visits showed how plantation companies like NGP participant Fibria are bringing this degraded land back into use. As well as providing employment opportunities, Fibria is supporting communities living nearby to improve their livelihoods – for example through growing native fruit trees and developing more efficient farming practices.

At the same time, Fibria has actively restored native woodland alongside its plantations, helping to support the region’s wildlife. Surveys show that biodiversity is increasing, within both the restored areas and the plantations themselves.

Other site visits included a cattle ranch where tree plantations are combined with beef production, and a charcoal factory largely supplied by plantations on its doorstep.

“NGP study tours are an enlightening and inspiring experience,” said NGP coordinator Luis Neves Silva. “Participants came away from Mato Grosso do Sul full of ideas for how plantations can play a positive role in the environmental and social landscape.”

The next NGP study tour will take place in South Africa in November.

Read a full account of the study tour here

About NGP

The NGP platform is a place for sharing knowledge about good plantation practices and learning from experience, through events such as study tours, workshops and conferences.

Over the coming decades, plantations are set to expand at a rapid rate to meet growing demand for paper, timber and energy. While plantations can be controversial, the NGP concept suggests that well-managed plantations in the right places can take pressure off natural forests, work in harmony with natural ecosystems, and improve the welfare of local communities.

Find out more at www.newgenerationplantations.org
Cattle with rancher in the Cerrado
© Edward Krasny Enlarge

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