Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas

When the agronomist engineer Jeilly Vivianne, Master of ESCAS, arrived at the extreme south of Bahia, in the cities of Caravelas, Nova Viçosa and Mucuri, she found a region dominated by coal exploration. In this social sphere, alcoholism and domestic violence emerged between the consequences. “Whoever got to build the furnace lured others. The one who opened the furnace had to drink to stand the combustion sulfur, since the use of PPE was not an option. The precariousness was also in the income that included alcoholic drinks as part of the payment. There was who manage the load as well, it was like a war scenario” described Jeilly.

In this context, she took on a risk contract of eight months with the goal of transforming coal workers into agroforestry ones. It was the implantation of the Rural Territorial Development Program (Programa de Desenvolvimento Rural Territorial --PRTD), of Fibria, in the area. “We had to convince these people to plant short cycle crops, with 90 days between the plantation and the harvest. We started the talk showing the alcoholism and the health issues of the population, but they were possible to change. There was a strong pressure from the cargo agent to avoid the participation of the coal workers in the reunions” reports the agronomist engineer.

Turning Point

For Jeilly, two situations enabled the gain of the scale that currently encompass two more cities: Alcobaça and Teixeiras de Freitas (BA). “When we noticed a farmer talking to another that it worked, the reception was different.” To share this experience, Jeilly started taking the ones who still weren't convinced about it to know the results of who had already implanted the agroforestry. “We also invited the farmers with results to some meetings, their testimonials were very important”.

The second moment was when the ex-coal workers who compromised to the change learned what could be done in the area. “We took a group to participate in an agroforestry experience, 800 km away, during a week. On the way back, there was already a transformation. Currently, we don’t need to go too far to show where they can get, we already have this reference in our territory”, Jeilly said.

Southern Cross Operation

In December 2011, the Southern Cross Operation (Operação Cruzeiro do Sul) of fighting against the production, commercialization and illegal transport of charcoal led to a break in the coal chain. “In one week, 2 thousand ovens were destroyed, agents and buyers were arrested. The coal workers had to find a new source of income and the program was an alternative. In the first year, that begun in September 2011, we operated in eight communities with 168 families. In the second year, we got to 20 communities and 420 families” the agronomist engineer said.

Results and Future

In almost nine years of the program, 50% of the ex-coal workers advanced into agroecology, among these, around 10% are already in the process of organic participatory certification by Rede Povos da Mata. “This is the future of agriculture, of food sovereignty. The farmers can pay for their children education in the city and they started to invest in their houses now. With basic livelihood ensured they can take other steps. It’s a meaningful evolution recognized by everybody. Some even recognize that they took too long to understand and to join the program, but the ones who embraced the proposal from the beginning have the results up ahead”.

Farmers tell the history of their lives transformation from coal workers to agroforestry workers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfgVAqhpsEQ&feature=youtu.be

Business in times of Covid-19

Changes in the scenario due to the pandemic accelerated some plans, like Jeilly explains. . “We planned to start working with basket deliveries in the second half of 2020, after the planting schedule, but with the suspension of fairs due the pandemic, we hasted the basket deliveries. We have more than 50 products ranging from fresh, to minimally processed and processed. We started with the delivery of 40 baskets per week on Teixeira de Freitas still in the month of April. We are already delivering baskets in other 3 cities: Alcobaça and Guaratiba/Prado (Bahia) and Nanuque (Minas Gerais).”

Jeilly Vivianne Ribeiro develops this initiative alongside with 15 direct collaborators, between employees and trainees, that works with her in Polímata Soluções Agrícolas e Ambientais – company that she found two months after her conclusion of professional master's degree in ESCAS in Bahia. One of the Jeilly's employee is also in ESCAS. “Dorandia Trivellin started as a trainee and stays as an employee in Polímata. She has an incredible potential and when she told me her dream was to do a master's degree, I said ‘You are going to ESCAS.’”

Increasing rural productivity, diversifying rural producers' income sources, encouraging the participation of all different stakeholders and contributing to preserving biodiversity are among the connection points of the work carried out in practice, in real life, by students from ESCAS – School of Environmental Conservation and Sustainability, both from the Professional Masters in Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development, and from the MBA in Social and Environmental Business Management.

ESCAS graduates are leaders in preservation and sustainability, who actively work to transform the socio-environmental reality all over Brazil. Check out six of these stories below, the results obtained so far and the next steps.


Projeto Sistemas Produtivos unites field productivity and a positive impact on climate

Selected in two competitions, the Agroforestry Challenge (initiative of Fundo Vale and Reserva Natural Vale) and in the national round of ClimateLaunchpad - the largest competition for green business ideas in the world (held by ClimateLaunchpad with co-hosting of Climate Ventures, in Brazil), the Project Sistemas Integrados matches degraded pasture reform with the use of forestry and agricultural crops. This way, the benefits go beyond the social sphere, through the diversification of producers' sources of income and reach the environmental sphere, reducing carbon emissions.

The project, developed by Pedro Nogueira, an ESCAS MBA alumnus, Thiago Nogueira, an ESCAS master's student, and Alexandre Tozzo is in the Climate Ventures regional competition to be held at the second half of September. “More efficient production systems emit less carbon, mainly because of pasture reform and rotational pasture; this helps significantly in reducing carbon emissions. In our business model, the forest component - the inclusion of trees - and agricultural species also contribute to the fixation of carbon in the system. In this context, on balance, the system changes from being a carbon emitter to a system that fixes more carbon”, reveals Pedro Nogueira. The project, according to its partners, is fully adjustable with the different Brazilian regions and biomes.

ESCAS students’ projetc disputes the Agroforestry Challenge and ClimateLaunchpad



Associação Ambientalista Copaíba develops studies for selecting the next forest restoration areas 

The identification of priority areas for connectivity, with the most strategic actions for restoration and its costs are among the topics presented in Flávia Balderi's master's thesis at ESCAS/IPÊ - College of Environmental Conservation and Sustainability. Flávia is one of the founders and executive secretary of Associação Ambientalista Copaíba (Copaíba Environmentalist Association), located in Socorro, São Paulo State. Flávia's thesis profile brings precisely the Association's area of ​​operation in 19 counties located between the Rio do Peixe basin, in the east of the São Paulo State, and the Camanducaia basin, in the south of Minas Gerais State.

“Based on this survey, we are going to contact the owners of priority areas for restoration and in this discussion all subject-matters will be important, such as ecosystem services and water conservation. For example, for those who work with tourism or production, we will try to use species that also add value to their properties in this regard; it is also a way of encouraging restoration to be made”, points Flávia Balderi.

ESCAS Masters graduate's final product will strengthen the Copaíba Environmentalist Association


ESCAS graduate bets on a new model for building and sharing knowledge

Documentaries and short films developed by researchers together with drovers, quilombolas, fishermen, rural producers and young people reveal new paths in environmental education. “The result is not the delivery of the video itself, but the way we produce it along with the community, students and researchers. This is the focus of our business”, points Gustavo Arruda, MBA graduate at ESCAS and partner at ‘Rastro Ecologia Criativa’.

Among Rastro's productions, after Gustavo completed his MBA, there is the short film Peixe das Nuves, by Pró-Pampa Institute. The video aims to share information about annual fish, also known as seasonal fish, highlighting the importance of habitat conservation, which includes the Conservation Unit's protective boundary zone, where human activities are carried out. “The research wasn’t reaching reach the surrounding communities and most of the conflicts happened because of habitat degradation. With the video, we created a more sensitive and attractive dialogue on the subject for those communities”, explains Gustavo Arruda.

See how Gustavo transforms ecology, art and communication into environmental education


Alumnus adapts business model in times of Covid-19

Changes in the scenario due to the pandemic accelerated some plans in the far south of Bahia where, nearly nine years ago, agronomist Jeilly Vivianne, a master from ESCAS, started a program with former coal workers who progressed on the path of Agroecology. “We planned to start working with basket deliveries in the second half of 2020, after the planting schedule, but with the suspension of fairs due the pandemic, we hasted the basket deliveries. We have more than 50 products ranging from fresh, to minimally processed and processed. From April to the first half of August, more than 1,100 baskets have been sold - more than 12.5 tons of food - in Teixeira de Freitas, Alcobaça and Guaratiba/Prado (BA) and Nanuque (MG)”, explains the graduate.

From charcoal to agroforestry: ESCAS/IPÊ master transforms social-environmental reality in southern Bahia

Program for farmers in southern Bahia contributes to the use of 100% of produced manioc

The masters graduate from ESCAS Jeilly Vivianne also works in the far south of Bahia in the implementation of “Farinheira Sustentável”, program which integrates the PAT (Territorial Action Plan) of manioc production, an initiative funded by resources from paper company Suzano's PDRT (Rural Territory Development Plan) and support from PRODETER - Territorial Development Program from state-owned bank Banco do Nordeste.

Actions began with the need to adapt the flour companies. “In 2017, the Public Ministry received a complaint about the inadequate disposal of manipueira – liquid residue from pressing the cassava mass – which 25 times more pollutant than domestic sewage”, recalls Jeilly Viviane. 709 families are served directly by Jeilly's team in the PDRT, and more than 3,000 have access to the content through PAT, with Mandiocast, the number of people impacted already exceeds the limits of local actions.

Master from ESCAS implements program that expands manioc use from 40% to 100%


Master from ESCAS wins the Whitley Awards, the Green Oscar.

Gabriela Cabral Rezende, a master from ESCAS, is on the list of researchers recognized with the Whitley Award for their efforts in the conservation of the black lion tamarin species. The biologist is among the six winners of the Whitley Award 2020, from the Whitley Fund for Nature (United Kingdom). The Whitley is considered the world's highest environmental conservation award, thus being called the Green Oscar. Master by ESCAS, the researcher competed with more than 100 other applicants for the award in a single category. In addition to the recognition, all six winners will receive a prize of £40,000 each to invest in their projects.

Letícia Laet, MBA student at social and environmental business management and designer at ESCAS (School of Environmental Conservation and Sustainability), is among the professionals that enhance how working to conservation and sustainability is stronger when it involves professionals from different areas.

“The communication, for an example, is primordial to achieve a more sustainable world. Through my work I look for sharing, briefing, unifying and engaging people. I’ve begun as a photographer; photography has helped me in projects, and I’ve always loved capturing moments and expressions. The most important thing is the production of an assertive (graphic and textual) communication, that explains its concepts, contributes with the project management, thinking about circular economy and the sense about using sustainable tools, besides promoting sustainable practices at work and out of it”, she said.

Letícia works as a designer at a company (Ana Laet Comunicação) and she also signs the graphic design of Activity Report at IPÊ (2018 to 2019) and other papers. “With the MBA I’m more prepared to graphic and communication productions about sustainability, entrepreneurship, marketing and accessibility, for example”.

New Perspectives

The way that took Letícia to MBA involved the seek for practical knowledge. “I’ve missed learning about business and sustainability at college. After all, design is also a business. I take sustainability seriously and I’d like to go deeper. I believe that any business needs to consider the socio-environmental impact. I’ve taken a look at MBA in Rio de Janeiro (where she lives) and I didn’t identify myself at it. I’ve followed IPÊ for so long and I saw a post about MBA in socio-environmental business management, from ESCAS, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity”.

Besides the knowledge she has been looking for, the MBA enables Letícia to know new possibilities, and better, new opportunities. “In addition to design I also create content and I want to work with education as well. Actually, I’ve always done, I just didn’t know that, and the MBA helped me to be sure. I’m going to implement social and environmental projects, including environmental education (graphic and non-graphic) projects that I’ve been thinking during the course”.

Plurality in Conservation

The final thesis, that Letícia Laet will sign up soon, with Camila Momesse (environmental engineer) and Fabio Accunzo (economist), is another evidence of multidisciplinary work’s potential in conservation and sustainability areas. “We are working on this thesis about entrepreneurship on public schools in different areas from Brazil. We understand education, represented by Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education, from ONU, as the most powerful strength we can use to change Brazil and the world. The learning of entrepreneurship is an opportunity to children and teenagers to get a better world, better society and better environment”.

At this moment, Letícia explains the group is at the step of good practices recognition. “We are searching projects and entities with educational initiatives who stand out on how to prepare the youngers, focused on entrepreneurship, mainly on middle and high public schools, looking for identifying the good practices, the opportunities and the challenges. We want to inspire and support other schools to include entrepreneurship among the knowledges taught to students”.


For 2021, Letícia will be involved with the production of at least four publications. “Soon I’ll work on three books, one of them about animals, another one about Brazilian recipes, and the last one is a secret so far”.

Also, for the next year is foreseen the publishment of “Relatos vivos e a beleza da singularidade” (“Alive reports and the beauty of singularity”), it’s a literary, photographic and accessible project developed as the final graduation product in graphic design of Letícia Laet, in PUC (Pontifícia Universidade Católica), in two versions: one with colourful pictures and the other one in braille, with pictures in high relief followed by its descriptions. “It is a photography book which depicts people with disability with the goal of showing we are all the same, we are all different, our limitations don’t matter. Many people underestimate people with disabilities as they were unable just based only on their disfunctions. I’m deaf and I have Usher Syndrome. For 2021, the idea is to compound the book with pictures and high relief images interspersed. I’m going to come back to “Relatos Vivos” project as soon as MBA ends”, she said.

Fridays for Future

In March 2019, Letícia were between the thousand youngers, from more than 120 countries, that joined to the movement Fridays for Future, led by Greta Thunberg. “That Friday was historic, I saw on social media the protest place and time in downtown Rio de Janeiro. I took a cardboard and wrote Greta’s words ‘I don’t want your hope, I want you to panic’ I saw myself in her words and I drew the world melting as an ice cream. I went to the riot even it was raining. The press photographed me with my poster and Marina Silva reposted my post, I thanked her for the message, and she congratulated me, she said it is very important that young people have their own voice for our future”.

Be an ESCAS student too: Short courses or specialization: [email protected] / WhatsApp (11) 99981-2601


Translated by: Brenda Braz Alves

WeForest’s Project Manager in Brazil, Cristina Yuri Vidal, has visited, in May, areas of native trees planted in Atlantic forest biome. Reforested trees form corridors of life, that connect  rural properties to Morro do Diabo State Park, in Pontal of Paranapanema - west side of State of São Paulo. With the corridors, IPE looks to conserve species of black lion tamarins, jaguars, tapirs, and others.

Visiting is a way to check the work developed by IPE, who receives resources from WeForest to invest in the Dream Map

Guided by the map created by its researchers, IPE’s goal in the long-term is to reforest 60 thousand acres in Pontal of Paranapanema. There is 3,000 acres to begin with and 900 acres were reforested using resources raised by WeForest.

The partnership between WeForest and IPE started 7 years ago. Read more here. Regarding the future, Cristina believes there are great expectation to the project’s continuity, since one of the characteristics of WeForest is to invest in long-term jobs. 

WeForest, a non-profit organization based in Belgium, raises funds from large companies and invests in restoration projects carried out by NGOs. In America, Brazil is the only country to be contemplated, while in Africa there are several countries and, at the moment, there is a finalizing project in India.

The proposal is the resource to be send to structured organizations with solid projects to establish the partnership. Together, partner and organization, outline the number of hectares to be reforested, and the restoration ways (whether they are going to use Permanent Protection Areas – PPA or agroforestry).

In the evaluation of the WeForest project manager, Cristina Vidal, in Pontal, the restoration chain goes beyond the environmental role, as it can also involve economic and social factors and the gender issue with the integration of women in the workforce, many of them are actually leading nurseries. Such benefits demonstrate that restoration brings improvements to the fauna, flora and preservation of water resources, and even goes beyond nature's bias by also benefiting male and female labor and promoting life quality. “The work with IPÊ goes far beyond the planted hectares because these native Atlantic Forest seedlings came from nurseries that include the work of dozens of families. This impact of going beyond restoration itself (biological and ecological) is a combination that WeForest is keen to look at”, she points out.

In Brazil, in the evaluation of WeForest, IPÊ has a strong presence, it is one of the big NGOs with diversified projects in the regions: Pontal do Paranapanema, Nazaré Paulista, Baixo Rio Negro, Pantanal and Cerrado. Specifically in Pontal, according to her, the institution is known by the society for its responsible operation, which facilitates access to rural landowners, who provides portions of their land to be reforested and form corridors of life.

The New Forest Code in the state of São Paulo determines that rural properties must preserve or restore 20% of their area with Legal Reserve and Riparian Forest (protection of water resources). However, according to Cristina, it is not an easy task to convince large and small producers to apply the law on their land. “Getting areas for restoration is one of the bottlenecks of any environmental project, as much as the law requires, obtaining authorization to restore is not a simple job. And that is what IPÊ has done masterfully in the Pontal region”, she stresses. And it goes on.” In addition to getting the areas for planting, the institution built an entire production chain which involved the creation of nurseries, training of nurseries (seed collection, production and seedlings sales), and also the companies that make the planting and management of seedlings. At last, IPÊ is a very strong partner”, she reinforces.

Investment in Research

According to Vidal, WeForest also invests in scientific research. Currently, part of the resources are allocated in studies on the Newfor project – along with researchers from the Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ).

In the region, researchers are studying the planted and its remaining forests. “As WeForest invests in restoration, it is also interesting to invest in research, since the study is exactly in the restored forests where the institution invests”, she explains.

According to the project manager, the institution finances Lidar flights that read the vegetation structure. Also it is planned to start in the first half of 2022 the financing for the installation of an audio recorder in the areas where Newfor reads the vegetation. The expectation is to record which animals live in the restored forests and native fragments. This proposal came from Laury Cullen Jr., project coordinator at IPÊ, to expand a project (in progress) with resources from CTG Brasil. “I believe it will be an interesting complement in the research area that will draw an overview of the forests in Pontal”.