During the first phase of this project (2011–2013) our brief was to search out those fragments of Atlantic rainforest in the States of PE, PB and RN where Caesalpinia echinata was still in evidence. The number of locations encountered was surprisingly small, endorsing the threatened status of the species in the region and the urgent need to reintroduce it order to maintain the balance of the original vegetation. In view of these findings, it was resolved to carry out a test on the efficacy of replanting Brazilwood within such fragments, as well as establishing three homogeneous experimental plots of approximately one hectare each, in areas outside the forest.
In the second phase of the project (2014-2016) our main task is to carry on with the maintenance and monitoring of these plantations, which involves activities such as: combating ants, removing weeds, establishing a vegetation-free circle around each sapling, adding fertiliser and making half-yearly measurements of the survival rate, rate of growth in height and diameter of the trees. These plantations will also serve as demonstrative plots for educational visits by rural smallholders, agrarian reform settlers, the members of agricultural cooperatives, community organisations, municipal authorities, etc.
At the same time we plan to diversify into other planting models: heterogeneous commercial plantations (i.e. those where a mixture of two or more species of trees are grown together) and agroforestry systems (land-use systems in which trees are grown in combination with agricultural crops and/or animal husbandry). In collaboration with local producers, we are establishing pilot plantations of 10 hectares in each of the target States in order to encourage the setting up of plant nurseries and enable us to evaluate promising communities and farmers. At the end of this second phase, therefore, we should have 30 hectares of Pernambuco wood planted in heterogeneous planting models and agroforestry systems. All planting projects will be officially registered with the competent environmental bodies (CPRH-PE, IDEMA-RN, SUDEMA-PB).
In parallel with this process, links will be strengthened with similar conservation initiatives and experimental plantations in other States of Brazil, including the National Programme for Conservation of the Brazilwood tree which was launched by the Brazilian Environment Ministry in 2012 as part of its obligations under the international Biodiversity Convention. The APNE project team plans to hold another two workshops on the conservation and planting of the species in order to give continuity to the workshop held in Recife in 2013 and the technical meeting in João Pessoa in 2012. These future events will allow a regular assessment to be made of the progress of the project, as well as encouraging the participation and interaction of all those involved in the group.
The project receives financial support from the International Pernambuco Conservation Initiative (IPCI) and involves partnerships with the following bodies:
Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis (IBAMA-RN) – Cláudius Monte;
Instituto para a Salvaguarda das Paisagens Inspiradoras e dos Refúgios Ambientais (INSPIRA) – David Maurice Hassett;
Universidade Federal da Paraíba (UFPB) – Dr. Maria Regina Barbosa;
Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco (UFRPE) – Dr. Carmen Zickel and Dr. Elcida de Araújo Lima;
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN) – Dr. Luiz Antonio Cestaro and Dr. Jomar Gomes Jardim.