Nature-based solutions (NbS) are defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as “actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human wellbeing and biodiversity benefits.” The IUCN has identified environmental degradation and biodiversity loss as a key societal challenge.
Under Brazilian law, farmers are required to set aside a portion of their land for conservation. These protected areas of native vegetation provide critical habitat for wildlife and plant species, but they are often isolated pockets leading to genetic bottlenecking of plant and animal communities. Connecting these natural areas provides species a safe passageway to reach other breeding populations.
Recognizing the role agriculture can play in protecting biodiversity, we began working with Parque Vida e Cerrado in Brazil, a regional hub for the restoration of native vegetation, scientific ideation and biodiversity education. Together, we have developed a project aimed at restoring degraded areas along streams and springs in the Cerrado of western Bahia, promoting biodiversity corridors within soy farms and protecting community water resources. The project is providing sustainable agriculture education to growers and local schools, as well as creating local jobs that work on collecting native seeds, producing seedlings at the nursery, or giving technical assistance on restoration to farmers. Going forward, the project will conduct biodiversity assessments in Barreiras and Luís Eduardo Magalhães, two of the major soy producing municipalities in Brazil. Specialists will capture maned wolves and other large mammals to monitor them via radio collars and carry out a survey to evaluate the habits of these species found in forested set-asides within soy farms. The project plans to create environmental education projects in two local schools and carry out a campaign to educate the community about the project and the wolves.