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article imageReforestation effort in Amazon aims to plant 73 million trees

By Karen Graham     Oct 31, 2017 in Environment
In the Brazilian Amazon, a new technique for planting trees, called muvuca is being used that results in stronger plants. Conservation International hopes to cover 70,000 acres in new forests, in an effort to prevent, or at least slow down a hot future.
Even though there may be other habitable planets in the universe, for now, and the somewhat distant future, we have Earth, and we need to protect our planet the best way we know how with the technology and innovation we have available.
As Digital Journal reported in "Could regreening the Earth fight climate change?" - Forests have the greatest potential to cost-effectively reduce carbon emissions. They absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, removing it from the atmosphere.
Smoke from deforested areas hangs in the air near Labrea in the Western Amazon region of Brazil
Smoke from deforested areas hangs in the air near Labrea in the Western Amazon region of Brazil
Deforestation in the Amazon
And one particular region on the planet, the Amazon rainforest, could be likened to the lungs of the Earth. At 6.9 million square kilometers (2.72 million square miles), the Amazon Basin is roughly the size of the forty-eight contiguous United States and covers some 40 percent of the South American continent. It is the largest rainforest in the world.
Most of the deforestation (70 percent) that has occurred in the Amazon has been due to cattle ranching, according to Mongabay in January 2017. Between 1991 and 2000, the total area of forest lost in the Amazon rose from 415,000 to 587,000 square kilometers (160,000 to 227,000 sq mi).
Satellite observation of deforestation in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso.
Satellite observation of deforestation in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso.
However, between 2004 and 2014, deforestation declined somewhat, primarily due to macroeconomic trends, new protected areas and indigenous territories, improved law enforcement, and deforestation monitoring via satellites, but more recently, deforestation has seen an increase.
Using computer modeling to estimate carbon losses due to climate deforestation
There are actually two things to be worried about with the continued deforestation of the Amazon rainforests - The loss of biodiversity and the release of the carbon contained within the vegetation, which could accelerate global warming. The Amazon's evergreen forests account for about 10 percent of the world's terrestrial primary productivity and 10 percent of the carbon stored in ecosystems.
A study published in the journal Nature in November 2000 pointed out that by the year 2100, the Amazon rainforest would be unsustainable at the current rate of deforestation going on at that time.
Scientists say Brazil is in danger of disregarding the consequences of the destruction of its ecosys...
Scientists say Brazil is in danger of disregarding the consequences of the destruction of its ecosystems, particularly in the Amazon
Lunae Parracho, AFP/File
Using computer-modeling and carbon dioxide concentration data, the study found that by using a fully coupled, three-dimensional carbon-climate model, carbon-cycle feedbacks could significantly accelerate climate change over the 21th century. And under a "business as usual" scenario, "the terrestrial biosphere would act as an overall carbon sink until about 2050 but turn into a source thereafter."
Another study conducted in 2009 by Vicky Pope, of the UK's Met Office's Hadley Centre, found that a 4 °C rise in global temperatures by 2100 would kill 85 percent of the Amazon rainforest while a temperature rise of 3 °C would kill some 75 percent of the Amazon.
Reforestation and the use of remote sensing
Remote sensing can be defined as the use of satellite or aircraft-based sensor technologies used to detect and classify objects on Earth, including on the surface and in the atmosphere. This technology is being used by scientists to monitor deforestation in areas such as the Amazon Basin, glacial features in Arctic and Antarctic regions, and depth sounding of coastal and ocean depths.
This image reveals how the forest and the atmosphere interact to create a uniform layer of  popcorn-...
This image reveals how the forest and the atmosphere interact to create a uniform layer of "popcorn-shaped" cumulus clouds. The long rectangular yellow lines box is the Amazon River.
NASA Earth Observatory
Orbital platforms collect and transmit data from different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, which when used in conjunction with larger scale aerial or ground-based sensing and analysis, provides researchers with enough information to monitor trends - such as El Niño and other environmental changes.
Conservation International, an American nonprofit environmental organization headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, was founded in 1987 and has become deeply involved in efforts to halt the loss of our rainforests around the globe. They have kicked off two projects in the past two months, one of them being to put remote sensing data tools in the hands of the people on the front lines of conservation: indigenous communities.
Karyn Tabor of Conservation International’s Moore Center for Science is leading the new NASA-funded project. The project was announced at GEO Week 2017, held October 23-27, in Washington, D.C. The conference on remote sensing was hosted by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO).
Earth observations are those in  on and around the Earth  whether from space or in situ. Combining i...
Earth observations are those in, on and around the Earth, whether from space or in situ. Combining in situ and space-based observations into easily accessible information to influence decision-making is GEO’s goal.
Tabor, during an interview with Human Nature, explained the remote sensing project's main objective. "This project seeks to promote sustainable land management and indigenous rights that help to achieve the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)."
The muvuca strategy and reforestation
The muvuca strategy is actually a new planting technique developed in Brazil a few years ago. “In Portuguese, it means a lot of people in a very small place,” says Rodrigo Medeiros, Conservation International’s vice president of the Brazil program and the lead on the ground.
The strategy "demands that seeds from more than 200 native forest species are spread over every square meter of burnt and mismanaged land." The seeds come from the Xingu Seed Network, which since 2007 has become a native seed supplier for over 30 organizations, thanks to a collection of more than 400 seed collectors–many of whom are indigenous women and local youths.
Indigenous women collecting seeds.
Indigenous women collecting seeds.
(Xingu Seed Network/Danilo Ignacio/ ISA
The key to the muvuca strategy is natural selection, the point being that even if seeds are sown in nitrogen- and phosphorus-rich soil, only a portion of them will survive. When several seeds germinate, they compete for sunlight and nutrients and only the strongest survive to grow into big trees.
The seeds come from the Xingu, Araguaia and Teles Pires River watersheds. The seeds are used in the reforestation of the Amazon forest and the savannah (Cerrado) in the states of Mato Grosso and Pará. The Xingu Seed Network not only sells native seeds for reforestation, but by doing so, generates income for indigenous, traditional, and small farmers, and promotes training for seed collectors while aiding in conserving the forests, values, and cultures of these populations.
According to a 2014 study by the Food and Agriculture Organization and Bioversity International, more than 90 percent of native tree species planted with the muvuca strategy germinate, and they’re especially resilient, able to survive drought conditions for up to six months without irrigation.
Felipe Spina Avino  World Wildlife Fund (WWF) forestry conservation analyst  uses drones to map an a...
Felipe Spina Avino, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) forestry conservation analyst, uses drones to map an area of rainforest in the Ituxi reserve in the Western Amazon region
“With plant-by-plant reforestation techniques, you get a typical density of about 160 plants per hectare,” says Medeiros. “With muvuca, the initial outcome is 2,500 species per hectare. And after 10 years, you can reach 5,000 trees per hectare. It’s much more diverse, much more dense, and less expensive than traditional techniques.”
Already, several million trees have been planted, and with the seeding technique being used, it will be a win-win situation says, Medeiros. “Springs, rivers, and streams that were suffering from the lack of water are already beginning to show signs of recovery in the region,” he adds. It seems like this latest attempt at greening the Earth is going to work, too.
More about Reforestation, muvuca strategy, 73 million trees, muvuca, Xingu seed network
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