Future: value of the forest that is priceless

In an article published by Jornal O Liberal, on March 2, 2022, written by journalist Dilson Pimentel, highlights the Cooperative of Extractivists of Flona de Carajás (Coex), a participant in the former PPA Business Acceleration Program, currently AMAZ. 

 

A project that has as an asset an engaging and transforming female leadership – and that preserves the forest. This is the Cooperativa dos Extractivistas da Flona de Carajás (Coex), an initiative supported by Vale. Created in 2006 – when it was initially named Cooperativa Jaborandi, until it changed its name in 2011 – Coex Carajás is today one of the most active management cooperatives contributing to the preservation of Amazon forest areas. And all this with the strength of the collection of jaborandi leaves and native seeds, which are used in the pharmaceutical industry and for reforestation actions.

But its management has not always had sustainable experiences in the Amazon. The collection, in general, was done without concern for preservation. Taken out anyway, the sheets were sold to middlemen at low prices. Jaborandi is considered green gold. But it is also like that for those who know the importance and its value for biodiversity, far beyond the economic: it is one of the species that, since 1999, is part of the endangered list of Brazilian flora. The combination of inadequate collection and removal of vegetation, for different economic purposes, contributed to this situation.

 

A seed economy

Therefore, the scientific support of Vale and the Vale Technological Institute contributes to strengthening the proper management of the species with the cooperative members. More recently, the cooperative has been working with the collection of seeds from several other native species, used in reforestation processes by Vale.

Since the cooperative members began to carry out this activity, more than 350 species of seeds have been sold. And this is a demand with great potential in Brazil, since there are about 19 million hectares that need to be recovered. With the creation of the new forest code, and the need to recover these deforested areas, a new opportunity was opened up for the so-called forest peoples: the seed economy.

This resource has already helped to supplement the income of several families of cooperative members, playing an important role in income generation. The seeds collected in the Flona de Carajás can be used in restoration projects with ecological purposes and in reforestation projects with economic purposes, to produce quality wood or non-timber forest products.

Seeds and seedlings would thus be the first link in the creation of a forestry and agroforestry economy that promotes sustainable development and also allows Brazil to fulfill its international environmental commitments. All the variety collected by the cooperative members is acquired by Vale and used in actions for the recovery of mined areas or environmental compensation carried out by the company.

 

Activities generate income and conservation in Southeast Pará

In addition to generating income in a sustainable way, the activities of cooperative members with technical and scientific support have contributed to the conservation of the Amazon in southeastern Pará. Business Acceleration Program of the PPA (Platform Partners for the Amazon), supported by the Vale Fund, and received mentorships in financial and administrative business management, logistics, commercialization, marketing and impact measurement.

In addition, it received investment, through a loan with easy conditions, to be able to take a leap in its operations. The program, which was developed and now became the AMAZ Acceladora de Impacto, seeks to strengthen entrepreneurship in the Amazon and businesses that bring social and environmental benefits to the region.

Supervisor of the Vale Zoobotanical Park (PZV), Cesar de Sá Carvalho Neto highlights the cooperative's historic partnership with ISES (Instituto de Socioeconomia Solidária), which allowed for the strengthening of administrative and financial management, the reformulation of the statute, construction of a shed and also pass it on to the cooperative members of a pickup truck.

Another partnership with the Federal Rural University of the Amazon (UFRA) was also focused on the knowledge of jaborandi biology, with several lines of research. The partnership with ITV (Instituto Tecnológico Vale) helps mapping reboleiras (areas with a high density of jaborandi plants) in the Carajás Flona. In addition, research focused on the content of pilocarpine, in addition to genetic and phenotype studies of jaborandi, reinforce the actions.

“Today, 100% of the seedlings produced in Vale's forest nursery in Carajás are supplied by Coex. Therefore, Coex carries out plant extraction, mainly jaborandi leaves and forest seeds”, emphasizes Cesar de Sá Carvalho Neto.

Coex Carajás cooperative initiatives have also received support from Instituto Tecnológico Vale for the work of diversifying the economic matrix, for the logistics of leaf removal and the establishment of contracts for the purchase of forest seeds with Vale.

Coex: bases to diversify and create new economic matrices

President of Coex Carajás, Ana Paula Ferreira joined the cooperative as an intern. Today, he is a recognized leader of the institution. There are 40 members. She is the only woman. According to Ana Paula, cooperativism generates income and brings positive results for the cooperative members – and also for the communities.

When talking about the seed collection work carried out in the Carajás National Forest, Ana Paula summarizes her feeling of restoration of life, and of power to contribute with scenarios that guarantee better days for humanity. The president of Coex says that one of the functions of the cooperative is to diversify and create new economic matrices and prepare associates in various activities. “Whether with the leaf, seed or any other non-timber forest product”, he summarizes.