'Breathtakingly audacious' project aims to plant 73 million trees in Amazon

November 1, 2017, 1:02 p.m.
Rio Araguarí, Brazilian Amazon
Photo: Bailey Evans/Conservation International

An ambitious plan by Conservation International could mean an impressive 73 million new trees will be planted over the next six years in the Brazilian region of the Amazon.

Organizers of the multimillion dollar project aim to have the trees planted by 2023. The restoration spans nearly 70,000 acres (30,000 hectares) of land, which is the equivalent of about 30,000 soccer fields. The plan will help Brazil move closer to its Paris Agreement goal of reforesting 12 million hectacres by 2030.

"This is a breathtakingly audacious project," said Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International in a statement. "Together with an alliance of partners, we are undertaking the largest tropical forest restoration project in the world, driving down the cost of restoration in the process. The fate of the Amazon depends on getting this right — as do the region's 25 million residents, its countless species and the climate of our planet."

The focus areas for the effort include the southern Amazonas, Rondônia, Acre, Pará and through the Xingu watershed. This area is known as the "arc of deforestation."

The restoration plans includes enriching existing secondary forest areas, direct planting of native species, and sowing selected native species.

The project will utilize a new planting technique called muvuca that was developed in Brazil only a few years ago, reports Fast Company. Seeds from more than 200 native species are spread over "every square meter of burnt and mismanaged land." Not all the seeds survive, but the strongest ultimately grow into mature trees.

So far, already about 1 million trees have been planted.

Conservation International is partnering with the Brazilian Ministry of Environment, the Global Environment Facility, the World Bank, the Brazilian Biodiversity Fund (Funbio) and Rock in Rio's environmental arm, "Amazonia Live."

“This is not a stunt,” Sanjayan tells Fast Company. “It is a carefully controlled experiment to literally figure out how to do tropical restoration at scale, so that people can replicate it and we can drive the costs down dramatically.”

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