Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas

Geographic Citizen Science Design - No one left behind was edited by Artemis Skarlatidou and Muki Haklay. Here, articles about different experiences in this field have been published. Rafael Chiaravalloti, researcher at IPÊ, tells us about his learnings working with fishers in the Pantanal wetland: “Representing a fish for fishers: geographic citizen science in the Pantanal wetland, Brazil”

- The creation of strictly protected areas in the western border of the Pantanal wetland, Brazil, has led to the physical and economic displacement of local people.

- A geographic citizen science programme was implemented to support local people to represent their customary practices, and to encourage practitioners to incorporate local people’s needs better in the conservation agenda.

- Time spent with local people to gain rapport is a fundamental step in the implementation of a successful geographic citizen science programme.

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IPÊ planted more than 1,500 trees in the Cantareira System, in a strategic region for the Atlantic Forest. This was possible because of individuals and companies donations using Tree-Nation, a platform where people have the opportunity to make a donation for tree plantations. There are 243 registered projects from 33 countries that share the objective of tackling climate change, like “Sowing Water Project”, an IPÊ initiative.

The first Tree-Nation trees were planted around the Atibainha reservoir, that takes part of the largest water supply systems in the world – Cantareira System.

In the Cantareira System, more than 21 thousand hectares of APPs - Permanent Preservation Areas need to be restored.

“The challenge in the region is huge and all donations are very important, because is helping us to restore forests and improving water production, in quantity and quality for millions of people. In the metropolitan region of São Paulo alone, 7.6 million people receive water from the Cantareira System, in addition to 5 million in the Campinas and Piracicaba regions”, celebrates Andrea Pupo, responsible for the Sowing Water Project.

On the Tree-Nation platform, people can choose which species they want to donate. Species diversity is essential for the Atlantic Forest and requires planning that takes into account the particularities of each one, as explained by Paulo Roberto Ferro, forest engineer at IPÊ.

“In addition to the division between cover species - which show rapid growth - and diversity that have a longer life span, we evaluate which ones best suit local characteristics. Araucaria, for example, shows good development in particular, in the higher areas with deeper soils, which also contributes to the dispersion of seeds. As for the juçaras, we look for areas where the forest remnants in the surroundings already provide a certain shade, a structure, in fact, capable of contributing to the development of the seedlings ”.

The next planting of Semeando Água with funds from Tree-Nation donations is scheduled for March.


Winner of the Whitley Award in 2002, considered the Oscar for Biodiversity Conservation, IPÊ researcher Laury Cullen Jr. is now one of the 13 Whitley Continuation Funding winners. The Whitley Fund for Nature (England) award is aimed at conservationists around the world, with the aim of ensuring scale for projects already supported once by the organization.

Laury is a forest engineer and dedicates his profession to restoring one of the most fragmented areas of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil, Pontal do Paranapanema, in the West of São Paulo. With the Corridors for Life project, he coordinated the planting of the largest corridor ever reforested in Brazil, which connects two importants Protected Areas of the Atlantic Forest: the Morro do Diabo State Park (PEMD) and the Mico-Leão-Preto Ecological Station. The corridor, which passes inside the Rosanela farm, has 12 kilometers and 2.4 million trees planted. It was born from the need to conserve rare and endemic species (which only exist in that region) such as the black lion tamarin, which live in what remains of the local Atlantic Forest.

The Atlantic Forest corridors are the result of a long term strategic study for planting forests in areas relevant to the fauna and flora of that region. In addition, it is the result of many partnerships between all sectors: government, private and non-government. The project considers, mainly, social participation as one of its greatest achievements: it brings income generation to families, new ways of producing and helps to build new sustainable businesses, for example, with community nurseries. Here's how it happens. “This is another major step in the mission to reconnect the Pontal do Paranapanema forest. We have been working on this for over 25 years and we are sure to make a big leap thanks to the Whitley fund. It is an award for us, from IPÊ, but above all, for the Atlantic Forest ”, celebrates Laury.

The forest corridors today are no longer limited to 12 kilometers. They advanced to the north of the PEMD and, by the end of 2020, there will already be a total of 500,000 more trees planted in this portion of the Atlantic Forest that needs to be reconnected. To the north, a new corridor is already formed by the project led by Laury and carried out by the team of IPÊ professionals in Pontal: Haroldo Borges Gomes, Nivaldo Ribeiro Campos, Aline Souza, Maria das Graças Souza, Williana Marin and Aires Cruz. In all, with the project, IPÊ currently has around 2.9 million trees planted. With Continuation Funding, it will be possible to plant 500 hectares of forest in two years. In other words, there will be another 1 million trees in the Atlantic Forest, which will generate climatic benefits, offsetting 43,000 tons of carbon; that they will support the conservation of endangered species such as the black lion tamarin and the Brazilian tapir; and that will provide restoration work opportunities for local communities. 

“Restoration in Oeste Paulista is the most interesting path for development and the local economy. The forest deficit in the region is almost 60,000 hectares. Our goal is to restore 5,000 hectares in five years. There is a forestry need, but it is also an economic and social outlet of great relevance. With reforestation, it is possible to generate U$ 10 million in the region's economy, U$ 1.2 million in community nurseries and U$ 25,000 in agroforestry products from small rural producers, until 2025. It is something promising, which benefits companies, government sectors, biodiversity and, of course, society ”, he adds.

The Agrobiodiversity project in the lower Rio Negro, in the Amazon is among the initiatives selected by the Unesco Green Citizens campaign. The goal? Attract supporters from different parts of the world to engage in local projects identified as true inspirations towards global change. The Unesco Green Citizens campaign has a platform where you can learn about the projects selected by Unesco teams and groups of observers around the world, based on three criteria: duplicable, innovative and impactful.

Unesco Green Citizens expects to select 100 projects / year. At the moment, about 30 projects are on the newly launched platform, including three Brazilian projects. On the platform, each project has a page that provides an overview of each initiative, photos and a form that allows direct contact between those interested in supporting the initiative - you can be one of them!

On the project form page, you can choose which front you want to support and start the conversation.

Mariana Gama Semeghini, associate researcher at IPÊ, shares how it was to discover that the project she coordinated was among those selected. “At first I was surprised and surprised by Unesco's contact, as I did not register for any Unesco process. But then I was very honored and proud of the nomination. I consider it a recognition of all the work that IPÊ develops in the Lower Rio Negro in partnership with communities and other institutions”.

About the Project

The Agrobiodiversity project in the lower Rio Negro takes place in Manaus and has the participation of Mariana Gama Semeghini, associate researcher at IPÊ, Márcio Arthur Oliveira de Menezes, Leonardo Pereira Kurihara and Thiago Mota Cardoso. The actions started in 2005, with the proposal to combine biodiversity conservation with sustainable development, through agroforestry systems, valorization of local knowledge, and entrepreneurship; all of this in an area threatened by deforestation in the Amazon. To date, the project has directly benefited around 50 families.

The researchers seek to stimulate social and ecological solutions generated in the communities for the development and consolidation of agroecological production systems and agrobiodiversity products (jams, cookies and sweets) aligned with the conservation of biodiversity.

Participatory research, training and exchange of knowledge and experiences between researchers and communities (traditional knowledge and technical / scientific knowledge) are among the strategies identified as a way of valuing local knowledge and contributing to communities' income generation, through entrepreneurship, including the strengthening of local organizations, business partnerships, in addition to marketing based on the principles of solidarity economy and fair trade. It is worth mentioning the training and participation of groups of women from the communities in regional and national markets for the marketing of products. The group also participates in Community Based Tourism tours in the region, with the organization of breakfast made from regional products.

When you look at the news about wildfires in Pantanal, which has already burned 25% of the biome, you can have a have perception of that being the total impacted area nowdays. However, when researchers analyzed the deforested and burnt areas until October 2020, they found that the damage reaches at least 40% of Pantanal.

“The wildfires in Pantanal already passed 28% of its biome. Although, the impact isn’t only this. Today it’s estimated that more than 15% of the region was deforested. There are few overlapping spots between those areas. Considering these two impacts, the data shows that at least 40% of Pantanal is already compromised. This isn’t permanent, Pantanal shows it has a big ability to recover, which we call “resilience”. Although, as in 2020, vast areas were burned, probably the resilience will be smaller when compared to other years”, Rafael Chiaravalloti points out, professor of ESCAS – Escola Superior de Conservação Ambiental e Sustentabilidade (Superior College of Environmental Conservation and Sustainability), researcher of IPE – Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (Institute of Ecological Researches) from Smithsonian Conservation Biology (USA) and scientific director of Ecoa – Ecologia e Ação (Ecology and Action).

According to him, the biome needs more time to recover. “It’s the same that happens if we imagine a neighborhood in which one house is destroyed, the neighbors can help recover it, but if many houses gets destroyed, the recovery will take way longer. At Pantanal what we have is the second scenario”.

mapa queimadas pantanal


* According to INPE, the Burned Area product with a 1km spatial resolution is in version 0.6 and is in the validation phase, at the Provisional maturity level.

The map above - with the deforested and burned areas - was developed by the project “Paisagens Sustentáveis” (Sustainable Landscapes) in the Pantanal, a partnership between the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Embrapa Pantanal and IPÊ. “With this map, made by Henrique Shirai who is also a master at ESCAS, who is part of the project team, we want to understand the impact of fires on these sustainable landscapes. We still consider the Pantanal as a biome that can combine conservation with production, but at the same time, the fires shows us that some measures needs to be replanned. The fires are not the end of the Pantanal, but they are certainly a red alert, especially when we analyze the integrated impacts of climate change, increased deforestation in the region surrounding the biome and the construction of hydroelectric plants in the region, which can certainly be a burden to the protection of the Pantanal ”.

The Sustainable Landscapes project in the Pantanal started this year with two main objectives. “Understand what sustainable landscapes in the Pantanal are and accelerate the certification process for sustainable farms; joining efforts with Embrapa Pantanal to expand the Sustainable Pantaneira Farm certification for the entire biome.

Certifications can mainly bring economic benefits to homeowners, such as credit facilities and tax breaks”, Chiaravalloti revealed. The team also includes researcher Dr. Walfrido Tomas from Embrapa Pantanal, Andre Restel Camilo, from Smithsonian, and Dr. Peter Leimgruber, also from Smithsonian. Rafael also points out that the approval of the Pantanal Law, can help reinforce the alliance between conservation and production, and could represent an important advance for the region. “.

The Article 10 of the New Forest Code highlights the Pantanal as a peculiar environment that needs specific regularization. With alignment between landowners and conservationists, we could celebrate with the Pantanal Law what many farmers have been doing for 150 years. Some farmers want what conservationists want - sustainable development, and we need to move towards that goal. ”.

About the drought in the Pantanal, the ESCAS professor highlights factors that aggravate the situation. “The current scenario is not an exclusive consequence of drought cycles, there are also the issues of PCHs – “Pequenas Centrais Hidrelétricas” (Small Hydroelectric Plants) that reduce the dynamics of flooding in the biome, in addition to deforestation and global warming that make the prospects even more complicated. Waterway projects also have the potential to reduce this flooding dynamic in the Pantanal”.