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The UN’s groundbreaking biodiversity report

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As many of you will already be aware, the UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service released a report on Monday, 6th of May 2019. It was a comprehensive assessment of global biodiversity loss.

The report paints an alarming picture of the current state of natural decline; it explains how nature is being destroyed tens to hundreds of times faster than the average degree over the last 10 million years.

It also explains how one eighth of species that are currently alive on earth are at risk of extinction. This report, therefore, is not one to ignore. It took three years to compile and has been contributed to by more than 450 scientists and diplomats. You can read more about its findings here.

Although this report shows the alarming threat of extinction for so many species, it also serves as a much needed signal. A signal that we need to stand up and act now to prevent catastrophic natural degradation. All is not lost if we act now, we can write our own future and stop this decline.

One proven way of preventing species decline is protecting and restoring our tropical forests. Our project aims to restore biodiversity along the Araguaia river. This will serve as a life artery for so many plants and species in the Amazon and Cerrado Savanna, two of the most ecologically rich biomes in the world.

By restoring nature and saving species from extinction, we are ensuring a future for humanity. We will be saving the underlying and interdependent natural systems vital for so many different functions in our lives: fresh water, modern medicine, oxygen and more.

Another important finding from this report is that 23% of global land has reduced agricultural productivity, due to land degradation. For landowners along the corridor, ecologically restoring small sections of their land will:

  • Maintain soil fertility and decrease soil erosion
  • Help regulate local rain cycles
  • Increase natural pollination by insects and birds
  • Conserve local water resources

You can learn more about the fundamental importance of restoring our forests and jungles, from the calming voice of David Attenborough here.

The impressive growth of our native trees

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We are so proud of the growth of the seedlings we have planted thanks to you. They have grown an unprecedented amount in the last few months. Just 4 months ago many of them were no bigger than a few centimetres high. Now, since they have been planted in the field, some are measuring up to 2 meters tall! This is an incredible testament to how helping nature just a little bit can lead to incredible ecological results.

The trees shown in this video are pioneer trees, planted at Fazenda Santa Fe, Santana do Araguaia in Para State in Brazil. They will eventually provide a canopy for more biodiverse secondary trees to grow underneath.

Launch of BJF’s Official Monitoring Protocol

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In order to ensure the success of our project, The Black Jaguar Foundation will now use an Official Monitoring Protocol to prove that our ecological restoration work is effective. The technical team at Black Jaguar Foundation- assisted by the forest restoration specialists Bioflora and the Forest Ecology and Restoration Laboratory (University of São Paulo)- developed the protocol to assess areas that have already been restored along the corridor.

The Black Jaguar Foundation implements restoration methodologies tailored to each biome and each phytophysiognomy along the Corridor. Regardless of the chosen restoration technique, these ecosystems are expected to show improvements in biodiversity, structure and functionality throughout the restoration process. The Protocol includes qualitative and quantitative assessments to be conducted in areas that are under restoration. In the early years, external, internal and aerial images will be used to show changes in soil cover. After the third year, quantitative sampling is conducted using random plots. In these plots, soil cover by native vegetation and the density and richness of natural regeneration will be verified.

Parameters measured in the field are compared to a reference values table, which indicates the numbers considered critical, minimum or adequate. If values are appropriate, the site is considered restored. Otherwise, BJF technicians should intervene to correct the ecology of the area and ensure it is on the right trajectory.

Quantitative monitoring is conducted in the third, fifth, tenth, fifteenth and twentieth year after planting, which will collectively produce a technical report of the area. Once the area is considered restored, monitoring ceases.

Furthermore, some in-depth analyses are planned in certain sites, with the aim of developing scientific knowledge. This will take place in partnership with local universities and research institutes.


Primary School children support the BJF

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We are very impressed by the pupils of the Geert Groote school in Dordrecht. As part of a three week interactive project the students have learnt about our grand mission and raised funds to support the BJF. The focus for their project was a “livable world” and the children worked on collecting plastic bottles.

The proceeds from this bottle collection went towards the BJF. Our Community Outreach Coordinator, Joel Boele, was a guest speaker at the school, where she used to also be a student. She presented our mission to the children and was very impressed by how impassioned and knowledgeable they were on the subject of climate and environmental degradation.

Thank you, Geert Groote school, for your mighty supporting of our project!

Meet Dimitrio: Our new project Coordinator

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The knowledgeable Dimitrio Schievenin has joined our team full-time in Brazil and we couldn’t be more pleased. Dimitrio works for the BJF as a project coordinator, organizing and implementing ecological restoration along the corridor. Dimitrio has a Masters in Forest Science from São Paulo State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Forest Engineering from São Carlos Federal University.

Since his undergraduate studies, Dimitrio has worked in several projects focusing on ecological restoration and forest ecology in most Brazilian biomes. He is very well informed about the various plant species that make up the ecosystems along the Araguaia corridor. Since he was a young boy Dimitrio has been interested in forestry and he says that working for the BJF is his dream job. When he was 8 years old, Dimitrio collected seeds in his garden and created his first mini native forest. He planted an eclectic mix of seedling and succeeded in forming his very own micro ecosystem. The BJF is honored to have such a passionate and enthusiastic person working on making our mission a reality.

The Araguaia Corridor Cost-Benefit Study has Begun!

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We are very proud to announce the start of our Araguaia Corridor Cost-Benefit Study!

This study will determine the total funds required to implement the BJF reforestation tasks for the Araguaia Corridor project, as well as the benefits that the project will generate for humankind. It will investigate the project’s impact on factors such as climate change and employment in local communities. It will show exactly how the return on investment (ROI) for this project is positive. With this study, we will be able to scientifically fact-check all benefits of re-greening the Araguaia Biodiversity Corridor, for Brazil and the planet as a whole.

Renowned professors from the University of São Paulo and the University of Illinois lead the Research Team:

Prof. Andrea Lucchesi

Andrea Lucchesi is a Professor at the School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities of the University of São Paulo (EACH/USP) in the area of economics and quantitative methods. Her research focus is on natural resources and environmental economics, public policy evaluation, innovation, and the labor market. Prof. Lucchesi is a member of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (EAERE). See her LinkedIn page here.

Prof. Madhu Khanna

As a distinguished Professor in Agricultural & Consumer Economics (ACES), Madhu Khanna examines the motivations for producers to adopt innovative production technologies to meet demands for food and fuel. For instance, precision farming, biofuels, and participating in conservation programs. Her work informs stakeholders and policymakers about the cost-effectiveness of various policy approaches to improve environmental quality and their implications for farm profitability, land use, food and fuel production. See her LinkedIn page here.

The Research Team will be supported by an Advisory Board. This is chaired by Bianca Nijhof and composed of highly reputed individuals from all over the world. They specialize in fields such as landscape management, green finance and corporate sustainability:

Namita Vikas

Vikas is a Global President & Global Head for Climate Strategy and Responsible Banking at the Yes Bank in India. She received global recognition as “Leading Women in Business Sustainability” by WBCSD, “Sustainability Leader of the Year” by Ethical Corporation, and “Asia’s Top Sustainability Superwomen, by CSRWorks”. An influential speaker, Vikas is often invited to speak at international platforms such as the UN General Assembly and G20. See her LinkedIn page here.

Bianca Nijhof

Managing Director at the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP). Previously, she was the global lead for the Arcadis Natural Capital business solution. She is a member of the Foundation Board at Workplace Pride, sits in the Advisory Panel to the Natural Capital Coalition, the Technical Committee of the Social & Human Capital Protocol, the Steering Committee of the Indo-Dutch CSR & Sustainability Forum and the Sustainability Commission NKBV (Dutch Mountaineering Association). See her LinkedIn page here

Helen Ding

Ding is an Environmental Economist at the World Resources Institute. Her work primarily focuses on terrestrial ecosystems and developing economic models to measure and demonstrate the socio-economic value of natural resources for better government and business decision-making. Previously, Helen worked for Deloitte France as a senior economist at Deloitte Sustainability Service and a deputy leader of Deloitte’s Natural Capital Community of Practice for Europe and Asia. See her LinkedIn page here.

Jan Willem den Besten

Senior expert in Green Finance at IUCN Netherlands. Prior to joining the IUCN Netherlands, Jan Willem has also served as Forests and Climate Knowledge Manager at IUCN USA. Jan Willem has done both his MSc and Ph.D in Forest and Nature Conservation at the University of Wageningen, world’s best in the field of Agriculture and Forestry. See his LinkedIn here.

Dr. Jörn Germer

Project Manager for Agroecology in the Tropics and Subtropics in the Institute of Agricultural Sciences in the Tropics at the University of Hohenheim in Germany. Dr. Jörn is a prominent researcher in these fields, having studies different ecosystems all around the world. See his LinkedIn here.

We are also proud to announce that the Araguaia Corridor Cost- Benefit study has been awarded a Research Award Grant from the Lemann Institute. You can find out more about the Lemann Institute here.

This important study was only possible through your support to our foundation. We are certain that this milestone will lead to many others in the near future.

No water No life: Why vegetation is important for our water supplies

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Hadassa Moreira writes a blogpost for the BJF about why we must keep the Araguaia River healthy by maintaining riparian vegetation. Hadassa studied biological science in Brazil. She then moved to the Netherlands in 2016 and refined her expertise, completing a Masters in Transnational Ecosystem-Based water management. She is originally from Brasilia but is currently working as a data specialist for IMD- a Dutch company that specializes in wastewater management.

Today is world water day! The theme of this year is Leaving no one behind, meaning that all people worldwide have the right of access to safe, clean water. Healthy river systems play a vital role in making sure that this goal can be met. In this post we seek to explain how the Araguaia Corridor project contributes to keeping the Araguaia River alive and improving its health, thus making sure that many people along the river catchment have access to clean water.

There are many ways in which riparian vegetation influences the conditions of waterbodies. A riparian zone is the place where land and a river or stream meet. Riparian vegetation are the plants and ecosystems that exist along these river margins. In this post we will focus on the impacts of riparian vegetation for water quantity and quality, both locally and regionally.

The vegetation along the river is essential for preserving the balance of processes such as erosion and sedimentation. Erosion and sedimentation are natural processes, but when disturbed, might generate serious problems for the river’s health. High sediment inputs reduce water quality, as the water becomes increasingly turbid. it can also negatively impact water quantity, as sedimentation of river beds decreases the flow capacity of rivers. How does riparian vegetation help? Trees promote bank stabilization, which reduces erosion. Trees also limit the runoff velocity, in turn limiting the amount of sediments that ends up in the river.

Another way in which riparian vegetation influences water quality and quantity is through infiltration and retention. Trees increase the water infiltration in the soil, increasing groundwater recharge and water retention for longer periods of time. These two processes maintain water available in the soil, which is necessary for microorganisms, other plants and animals. Water infiltration and retention are therefore of great importance for the ecosystem, as well as for the maintenance of local agriculture and livestock rearing.

Last but not least, riparian vegetation does not only have positive impacts locally but also on a regional scale! Through the processes of evaporation and transpiration, trees release water into the atmosphere. At a later stage in the water cycle, the water masses condensate as rain. Some of this rain will fall in the river catchment and some of it will fall in other regions! This contribution of vegetation in the water cycle is of great importance for human populations in Brazil, especially considering the water scarcity that many cities of Brazil have suffered in last years.

In conclusion, the impacts of projects such as the reforestation along the Araguaia River is linked to the idea of leaving no one behind as riparian vegetation contributes to healthy rivers systems and promotes rain events in other regions, ensuring water, food and livelihood for people along the river but also for people who live far from the river catchment. By supporting the Araguaia River (eco)system we keep the water flowing for many people!

The planting of native trees in the Corridor continues!

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It has been all hands on deck along the corridor as thousands more trees are currently being planted as part of our first pilot project. Finally the BJF dream is becoming a reality thanks to the immense work and dedication of our team.

We have used two different methodologies for planting in our Pilot project:

1) Direct Planting

Seedlings are grown in the nurseries and then planted in the field. The process involves removing invasive grasses, soil preparation, soil fertilization and finally the planting itself. We divide tree species in two groups: fast growing and diversity. The first group consists of a few species that grow really fast and provide good shade. The role of these species is to shade out invasive grasses and change the microclimate for diversity species. The second group consists of species of different functions within the ecosystem. These trees live longer, grow taller and feed the fauna.

2) Direct Seeding

This method involved putting seeds directly in the ground. We use tree seeds and legume seeds. Legume plants are nitrogen fixing and fast growing, thus helping in shading out invasive grasses and changing the microclimate for the trees to come.

Our forest engineers will soon be making videos to explain more about our planting process, we will keep you updated!

Ibiraú : new technical partner keeps us moving forward

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We are proud to announce that Ibiraú – the mapping and forest restoration engineers- have become a BJF technical partner. They have carried out an extensive mapping study and they have shared it with the BJF. This represents a breakthrough; we can now plan the next steps of restoration in the states of Tocantins and Pará.

The document analyses several aspects of the landscape of the region where we work: land limits, hydrography, state of the vegetation, connectivity potential… We can perceive in detail the localized needs of the regions we are helping to reforest. A great breakthrough for the BJF!

An example of the extensive mapping carried out by Ibiraú.