The Arc of Deforestation is the most infamous zone of the Amazon region. It refers to a crescent-shaped belt of rapidly disappearing forest in Brazil; in this area, about 80% of deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon takes place. Rich and diverse rainforest is converted into grassland and savannah. Scientists worry that this “savannization” will result in a tipping point and eventually lead to the collapse of this rainforest ecosystem. Sadly, as deforestation continues without stopping, this is an ever-approaching reality.
Deforestation occurs for a variety of reasons, such as logging, mining, agricultural expansion, cattle pasture and land speculation. What links these drivers is that currently the Amazon rainforest is understood as being worth more clear-cut than as the rich and diverse rainforest it (still) is.
Yet, as the world’s largest contiguous rainforest in the world, the Amazon is one of the most biodiverse places left in the world. About 3 million species live among more than 2,500 tree species. And due to the extent of the rainforest, it plays a vital role in recycling water vapour and providing rainfall for areas as far away as São Paulo. The Amazon river, the largest in the world, contributes to a water discharge equal to 18% of all freshwater discharged into the oceans. And Amazonian forests are an important carbon sink. In short, the Amazon is a crucial global ecosystem – and current degradation trends already impact local and global climates.
Almost 30 million people live in the Brazilian Amazon and the population is diverse. There are indigenous communities that have lived in the Amazon for millennia and who today defend the forest with their lives. There are Quilomobas: the descendants of abducted and enslaved Africans, who escaped and formed their own settlements. There are many smallholders that migrated to the region to find decent work, yet who are victims of crimes against their human rights. For all of these groups, a better way of living in the landscape is possible. And this diverse population represents an opportunity to develop a restorative economy within the Brazilian Amazon.
Now, a new generation of Amazonian leaders is coming together to turn the frontier of degradation into the “Arc of Reforestation”. Meli Bees Network – an international non-profit – is creating a network to build deep relationships with diverse groups from indigenous and quilombo communities as well as smallholder farmers, while promoting regenerative business to bring protection and regeneration to the most endangered areas of the Amazon.
Creating an “Arc of Reforestation” in the Amazon
20 year vision
The once infamous “Arc of Deforestation” is in transformation. Next to patches of degraded and cleared land, satellite imagery shows green, rich and abundant pockets springing up. Community empowerment drives regeneration across the region. Activities that lead to deforestation are slowing down, as techniques like regenerative agriculture, agroforestry and the cultivation of stingless bees spread. The Meli Bees network will be made up of:
- Up to 50 communities developing regenerative practices
- Around 1.000 families engaged in restoring 2.500ha of previously devastated areas
- More than 50 community “beehouses”
- Projects to protect, monitor and develop sustainable supply chains with traditional communities in 1.000.000ha of primary forest
The Amazon is (still) the most biodiverse region in the world
We start our projects developing a deep relationship with the traditional communities. The community is empowered to share with us (and with the world) their history. To do so, we develop story-telling and photography workshops. Our goal is to value and learn from their experiences.
Quilombo Bracinho do Icatu
The project will enhance community resilience with inspiration. A more resilient community can better protect land, biodiversity and cultural heritage.
Workshop: Kayapó at IFPA Campus Rural Marabá
The care of native bees goes together with the care of the entire local biodiversity. Bees bring environmental balance as primary pollinators of the native flora.
Quilombo Bracinho do Icatu
Regenerative agriculture, agroforestry and the cultivation of stingless bees stimulates a regenerative industry within the Amazon region.
A smallholder farmer developing agroforestry and regenerative agriculture at the 1° de Março smallholder community
- Restoration of primary rainforest
- Monitoring for biodiversity
- Regenerative agriculture
- Stingless bee hives
- Organic farming
- Processing areas for products
Promote the care of stingless bees
- Training on beekeeping
- Establishment and monitoring of “beehouses”
- Commercialize bee-related products
Holistic land management
- Mapping, planning and fire protection
- Establishment of trees and earthworms nursery
- Develop regenerative agricultural practices
Education and cultural heritage
- Environmental education activities with schools
- Publishing indigenous bilingual books
- Support groups of community research
- Support academic work