In 2008, Monsanto signed a $13 million shared-fund, five-year partnership with Conservation International (CI), a not-for-profit organization based in Washington, DC. Over the past four years, we’ve seen incredible advances in capacity building, research, articulation of partnerships and the recovery of degraded areas in Western Bahia, Cerrado, as well as other states of the Brazilian Northeast Region’s Atlantic Forest. These areas are hotspots of biodiversity, where conservation is a priority because of the dramatic expansion of Brazil’s agricultural sector and its exceptional level of native plants.
This partnership finds innovative ways to assist in, and has created opportunities for, effective conservation and forest preservation. Efforts have also been made to combat illegal deforestation and encourage farmers to comply with environmental laws.
Partnering with Conservation International in the Atlantic Forest
In our first phase, Conservation International assisted 80 low-income families by installing ecological stoves in their homes. These stoves, developed by the Center for Environmental Research, decreased the amount of firewood used by families by 50 percent, reducing emissions of green house gasses directly, and indirectly reducing deforestation caused by selective logging. Another important result was the improvement in community health because the old technology produced unclean air inside of homes.
CI was able to assist in creating the Natural Heritage Private Reserve (PRNP) in Pernambuco. This preserve covers more than five thousand acres and is now a safe-haven for 18 endangered or threatened species and subspecies. This list includes the white-necked eagle, one of the most critically endangered birds in the world.
Cerrado, The Western Bahia Corridor
The fourth year of the Produce and Conserve program—a partnership program between our team and CI—was highlighted by the launch of the 100 percent Legal Campaign. This program was aimed at involving several institutions and state governments in actions that promote the conservation and restoration of the Permanent Preservation Areas (PPAs) in the city of Luis Eduardo Magalhaes. The purpose of this effort was to make the municipality the first to comply with new environmental legislation and be an example throughout the surrounding areas. CI provided technical support for farmers for the recovery of PPAs, including mechanized planting of muvuca – a mixture of native and agricultural seed.
Profile of Mr. Vilson Gatto, Farmer
“My property has an area of 2,671 hectares, 800 of which I planted with soybeans. I had been trying to restore 2 hectares of degraded land that was situated by a small stream that runs across my property, causing erosion. The area was also considered a Permanent Protected Area (PPA), which, according to Brazilian legislation, has to be kept with its natural vegetation.
“When the Monsanto and CI team came to me proposing to participate in the 100 percent Legal Campaign, I immediately jumped on board. “So last year, using new technology of direct sowing, I sowed one hectare of ‘native Cerrado vegetation,’ a mixture of native seeds that hopefully, in the future, will be better than the ‘real thing.’
CI continues to advise Monsanto on new ways we can improve our environmental practices and protect the region. As part of our partnership, both institutions are working to find ways to produce concrete and measurable results that guarantee conservation and biodiversity in Brazil.
This article is an excerpt from Monsanto’s 2012 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Report. To see the whole report, please visit Monsanto.com.