Kew’s Tropical America Team has been active in the ‘arc of deforestation’ of Brazil’s southern Amazon (Mato Grosso) since 2006. Initially supporting conservation planning and decision-making in new and emerging protected areas, this programme focused on local capacity building, vegetation mapping and floristic research. Now, with better botanical baseline information available, the team has been working to support local organisations restoring biodiversity and ecosystems in a degraded landscape.
The work to restore biodiversity in the southern Amazon is being supported by the UK Government Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Kew receives about half its funding from Defra.
With a grant from Defra’s International Sustainable Development Fund in 2012, Kew has provided technical support to Instituto Ouro Verde (IOV), a local non-governmental organisation, helping smallholders restore forest alongside deforested water courses on their land. IOV’s project works with a combination of native species and agroforestry systems, and faces considerable technical challenges with plant identification and seed viability.
Following visits by staff from Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Partnership and Herbarium, and the provision of recognition and seed storage data for native species currently and potentially handled by the project, IOV has been able to improve the accuracy of its seed collecting programme and, through improved handling and storage, achieve better results from its planting. Kew’s input also supported a multi-stakeholder workshop to establish monitoring systems for agroforestry and reforestation in the region, and funded the construction of a research centre, nursery and seed store. The first monitoring based on the system developed during this workshop was successfully completed in March. Ongoing research at the new facility, officially opened in 2013, will continue to refine methodologies for restoration in the region.
Item from Dr William Milliken (Head of Tropical America Team, RBG Kew)
Kew Scientist, issue 43