Restoring Brazil’s Araucaria forest

The Araucaria forest is one of world’s most degraded ecosystems and restoration offers a potential conservation solution for several threatened trees, but the majority of planting programmes use only a small selection of common species. This project, implemented by Sociedade Chauá, is working to restore and to enrich fragments of Araucaria forest with a full range of tree species.

The Araucaria forest is a unique ecosystem found in southern Brazil’s Atlantic forest. Originally covering more than 7 million hectares of Paraná state, the forest is now highly fragmented, with less than 1% remaining. Many of the remaining tree species are extremely rare and are failing to regenerate naturally.

Although there are several restoration programmes in Paraná, few are adopting the full range of threatened, rare or native trees in their planting mix. Of all the forest’s threatened species, only 17% have been produced by state nurseries, largely due to the difficulty of identifying seed sources, low levels of seed collection and the lack of knowledge on how to grow the seedlings.

In order to restore the Araucaria forest with its full range of species, our partner, Sociedade Chauá, is working to identify wild seed sources from rare (and often forgotten about) trees and to provide technical guidelines on their propagation requirements.

The Chauá team hard at work at the threatened tree nursery. Credit: Marian Lechner

The Chauá team hard at work at the threatened tree nursery. Credit: Marian Lechner

Threatened trees to benefit from this project include the imbuia (Ocotea porosa), the Parana pine (Araucaria angustifolia) and the tomato tree (Cyphomandra diploconos).

Our long-term aim is to support other nurseries and tree planting programmes to apply the information developed by Chauá to increase the quality and diversity of seedlings used in restoration projects. Since teaming up with the Global Tree Campaign in 2011, Chauá have made a number of significant steps towards this aim:

  • The location of 38 rare or threatened tree species have been mapped
  • A seed collection calendar has been developed for 30 rare or threatened species
  • Germination trials are underway for 18 species with guidelines published for four species
  • Over 6,700 seedlings from over 50 species have been planted by restoration projects
  • Training in native species restoration has been delivered to over 100 students and forest engineers

More recently, the project is increasing engagement with the main players in forest restoration; government nurseries, NGOs and private landowners .

Chauá is collaborating with its partner Sociedade de Pesquisa em Vida Selvagem e Educação Ambiental (SPVS) to ensure that the results of the research completed so far are applied by on-going restoration projects. These include the Araucaria Forest Green Corridor Initiative and ConBio – an urban conservation project supporting restoration of properties in Curitiba and Campo Largo.

This will involve developing methods to measure the success of the restoration projects, carrying out additional training workshops for nursery managers and landowners and providing seedlings from the Chauá nursery.

Did you know?

Roasted seeds from the Critically Endangered Paraná pine are a popular winter snack in Southern Brazil.