Mil Folhas Project
22¼27'32.78" S - 43¼12'43.35" W - (Alt. 2,600' to 3,100')
The Mil Folhas Project began in 1996 to reforest a public area of 200,000
m2 (50 acres) between the Kms 71 and 73 of the interstate highway BR-040
in the Vale Florido region of the municipality of Petrópolis,
Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. The area, originally covered by the native
Atlantic Forest of altitude, was completely and unnecessarily devastated
in the mid 1970's for the duplication of the highway.
The project began with the initiative of three friends, Guga Casari,
Cesar Mascarenhas, and Chico Bicalho, to recompose the area that was
completely degraded, and susceptive to erosion and fire, since it had
been deprived of its original forest cover for twenty years.
Initially, the project was executed rather informally and erratically,
with the mobilization of friends, local population, and group efforts
that didn't always have the effect necessary to get the project off
the ground. Although we studied the Secondary Succession Process, developed
by the great agronomist Prof. Paulo Kageyama, the project moved very
slowly in the first years. This occurred for a very simple reason -
lack of funds, and lack of experience. The soil condition in the site
was depleted of nutrients, and covered by very aggressive tall weeds
called capim colonião, braquiara, and gordura. Furthermore, we
didn't know how to dose the fertilizers correctly.
In 2001, Guga Casari, and Chico Bicalho designed a toy called ZéCar,
distributed by the New York based company Kikkerland
Design Inc. being established that, all the funds from the royalties
provided by its sales would go entirely for the Mil Folhas reforestation
project. In addition to that, a generous matching fund by Kikkerland
Design, doubled the funds for the project, increasing our capacity to
plant trees in geometric progression, as we gained more technical experience.
Since then, more than 105 thousand trees of 150 different species native
of the Atlantic Forest were planted.
As of the year 2000, we began working with the local Public School João
Kopke, with event/days dedicated to environmental education, and awareness
for more than 350 children ages between 5 and 18, whereby signs with
ecological sayings are made, and distributed along a 5-mile walk from
the schoolhouse to the site, as all the trash is removed along the way,
culminating with the planting of approximately 1,500 trees. One of the
most relevant aspects of this project is to communicate the importance
of the environment, and the preservation of nature to the local children,
and to the entire community.
The Mil Folhas Project, being geographically located between two large
Atlantic Forest State Parks; the Araras Biological Reserve (2,000 ha),
and the Tinguá Biological Reserve (26,000 ha), will adopt, and
absorb, the local forest ambient, generating a birthplace, and genetic
corridor between these two important biological reserves. Many rare
species of trees that have disappeared from much of the Atlantic Forest
are being re-introduced in generous amounts, as the palmito Jussara
(Euterpe edulis), peroba-de-Campos (Paratecoma peroba), cambucá
(Marlierea edulis), jequitibá
(Cariniana estrellensis), araucaria (Araucaria angustifolia), jatobá
(Hymenaea courbaril) among many others.
The Mil Folhas Project is expected to be finished around 2016. Until
then, approximately 300 thousand trees native of the Atlantic Forest
from at least 150 different species shall be planted. In addition to
that, two important collectors of bromeliads are preparing to make significant
donations to the project, enriching the site with more than 500 different
species of rare bromeliads, many of which native of that region. More
than reforesting, the Mil Folhas Project will establish a very rich
genetic bank of trees that will become matrices for the collection of
seeds that will contribute to more reforestation projects.
This project is
dedicated, with love, to Philip and Molly Jenkins.