The Atlantic Forest runs along the Brazilian coast down as far as Paraguay and Argentina. One of the most biodiverse ecosystems on earth, just 20% of the tropical forest remains. The rest has been cleared, largely to make way for agriculture.

The forest is important not only for the wildlife there but for supplying water and energy to millions of Brazilians, particularly those living in and around the cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Sisters Ana Paula und Flávia Balderi know the problem all too well. They founded the environmental organization Copaíba as teenagers 20 years ago. Named after an oil resin, derived from the trunk of several native South American trees, Copaíba has been trying to help restore the forest by planting trees.

The sisters are now working with the Mantiqueira Conservation Plan, a large reforesting program aimed at protecting the Atlantic Forest and its water sources. Under the scheme, farmers and businesses are encouraged to plant trees on their land or to buy CO2 certificates.

More than 400 communities, firms, universities and NGOs are part of the scheme, which is supported by Germany’s International Climate Initiative (IKI).

A waterfall in the forest.

The “waterfall of dreams” flows into the Rio do Peixe, one of the most important tributaries in the mountain region that supplies the Sao Paulo region with water

The project: The Mantiqueira Conservation Plan aims to restore 1.5 million hectares of the Atlantic Forest and is part of a larger IKI-supported reforesting push across Brazil.

Project financing: The German Environment Ministry is providing €3,344,732,00 for landscape and forest restoration in Brazil. This is mainly used for networking, exchanging information, awareness raising and studies and publications of reforestation projects. Reforestation under the Mantiqueira plan is financed through the sale of CO2 certificates, donations and partnerships.

Partner Organizations: Brazil’s environment ministry, the Brazilian Corporation of Agricultural Research und the Brazilian Development Bank, the International Institute for Sustainability, the Atlantic Forest Restoration Pact and the World Resources Institute.

A film by Bianca Kopsch