Making tree planting work for threatened trees in Brazil

Conservation Problem
Forest restoration could have huge benefits for threatened trees in Southern Brazil’s Araucaria forest. But, most tree planters use common species and miss the opportunity to plant & help save the most threatened species.

Project Goal
Work with a wide range of nurseries & tree-planters to mobilise a change in the species selected for growing and planting, working towards the recovery of a rich & diverse Araucaria forest & the region’s most threatened trees.

Why these species?

Ninety-nine percent of primary Araucaria forest habitat in southern Brazil has been lost due to logging and farming. As a result, 72 of its 352 native tree species are threatened or are extremely rare. These include iconic candelabra trees (Araucaria angustifolia), high-value timber species such as the imbuia (Ocotea porosa) and rare palm trees (Butia eriospatha), much loved by gardeners as beautiful ornamental plants.

In the face of such extreme habitat loss, many threatened species are failing to regenerate naturally, and planting is needed to help boost numbers and ensure long-term survival.

Although restoration planting is set to increase in Brazil (e.g. the Brazilian government has committed to restore 12 million hectares of forest across the country by 2030), relatively little attention is given to ensuring a large diversity of native and threatened species are included in plantings.

Indeed, the majority of tree nurseries and planters operating in the Araucaria forest region focus on a narrow range of common tree species.

Without a change in practice, the huge investment going into forest restoration is unlikely to benefit the threatened trees found in southern Brazil.

Variety of species are on back of truck at Chauá’s nursery, on their way to be planted in Flona do Assungui State Park/ Sociedade Chauá

What did we do about it?

Between 2012-2020, in partnership with local NGO Sociedade Chauá (Chauá), we catalysed a change in restoration practice, engaging with the nurseries and planting organisations working in the Araucaria forest to increase the number of threatened tree species they grow and plant. We addressed key factors that previously limited the use of threatened species, including knowledge on how to grow them, availability of seed and awareness and motivation of the groups buying trees for restoration. To achieve this, we carried out the following actions:

  • Conducted research on where to find and when to collect seed from and how to grow and plant out threatened tree species from across the Araucaria forest.
  • Propagated threatened trees in Chauá’s nursery and planted them out across the Araucaria forest, providing an example for others to follow.
  • Provided training to other nurseries, helping them to grow more threatened tree species and therefore increasing supply of seedlings available for tree planters.
  • Encouraged farmers, businesses, NGOS and universities to plant out a wider range of threatened trees across the landscape.

Children visit Chauá’s nursery as part of the Project Pequeno Campolarguense during Environment Week/ Sociedade Chauá

Key achievements

Our work contributed to real changes in restoration practice in southern Brazil, with more than 50,000 seedlings, from 40 different threatened species, planted out across the region by 27 other planting projects (ran by farmers, NGOs, businesses and universities). Through our engagement, these groups have shifted from growing a small selection of common species to a wider selection of threatened species.

Furthermore, 11 other tree nurseries have added threatened species into their production, following training from Chauá. Chauá is providing ongoing support to these nurseries, helping them to access seed from a range of species, and providing training in germination techniques

This has been achieved as a direct result of Chauá’s work to develop and share knowledge on threatened tree restoration. Chauá first completed field surveys in search of ‘mother trees’ for threatened species in 2011, bringing seed back to their nursery and learning how to grow various species. Today, there are more than 215 different species (more than one third of the region’s entire tree flora) growing in this nursery, and we are constantly learning more about how best to grow and plant them.

Contact details

For more information on this project, please contact

Did you know?

Brazil has 8,847 species of tree, the most of any country on Earth. But it also has the most threatened trees.