Forest Heroes

by Andrea Narja Heberling

May 7th 2019

The young Fioravante José Montanher and Oseías Gonçalves de Oliveira are convinced that the standing forest is a source of greater wealth for all. The two partners of TodaVida work in the municipal nursery of Juruena, Mato Grosso (Midwest Brazil), where up to one million seedlings can be cultivated over a period of one year. Both dedicate their lives to promote the balance between human beings and nature, being part of reforestation and sustainability initiatives. Therefore, they really deserve the name “Forest Heroes”.

Fiori, as he is affectionately called by everyone in the city, started working in the nursery more than ten years ago, when he was still a teenager. He was born in Nova Londrinha, State of Paraná, in the south of Brazil, into a family of farmers. “My grandfather and father were always people of rural activities, and I could not be different,” he says.

Bruna Quadros

University Leuven

Fiori moved with his family to Juruena in 2004 and has been interested in the city’s nursery since the beginning. In 2007, when he was only 18 years old, he took over the management of the nursery. “This was a very special day, because I was sure that I was going to make things happen”, he remembers.

In 2010, a reforestation project signed a partnership with the public sector to manage the nursery, and Fiori was hired by the initiative. He says that his experience and knowledge have been enormously enriched by their participation in these socio-environmental projects. “I saw the change in the people who benefited from the activities” he says. Today Fioravante is Coordinator of the Agriculture Activity within the City Administration of Juruena.

Agroforestry System

The young Fiori joined TodaVida’s socio-environmental project in 2017, when the company purchased two thousand Brazil nut seeds that would be grown in the Juruena nursery and then planted in agroforestry systems in the region. “I believe that these seedlings are real diamonds for the people who receive them”. He says that his greatest motivation is to see the nature planted in the past become a source of profit today: “The collection of nuts and their use are activities that provide an income to people in our region with fantastic figures”.

Oseías Gonçalves de Oliveira, a daily co-worker at the nursery next to Fiori and a collaborator with TodaVida, shares the same enthusiasm: “I started working with the production of seedlings on account of fate. I very much identify with this work, and I feel really good about life”, the forest hero says. He began his mission with reforestation from a training program offered by the Juruena nursery to minors in 2010. At the time, at only 15 years of age, Oseías was motivated to seek knowledge in this area.

Arrangement of Bruna's Thesis - click to enlarge

Today he applies his experience with the technique of grafting in the production of Brazil nut seedlings and predicts fabulous results: “I learned how to produce and make citrus seedlings through grafting. I used this same technique on the nuts and it worked. We planted these seedlings on my grandfather’s property. A Brazil nut plant takes more than nine years to produce seed. With the grafting, I believe it will produce seed after five years”, he prophesies.

“Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and slaughters a visible Nature...without realizing that this Nature he slaughters is this invisible God he worships”

Hubert Reeves, astrophysicist

For Fioravante Jósé Montanher, the political and economic scenario in which Brazil finds itself is the greatest challenge for reforestation and sustainability projects. This is because the resources are defined and distributed according to the mentality of the people responsible for them.

But the nurseryman from Juruena, who makes seedlings to replant the forest, is not intimidated: “I am proud to have grown up in this environment, to have done good and to have produced something that can live for hundreds of years. And, mainly, because what we produce does no harm to anyone. Today we fight and defend that the standing forest is a source of wealth. Our Brazil nuts bear witness to this. Long live our forest!”

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Project Impressions

How good it is to work with these Heroes of the Forest, who share the vision of TodaVida: to create sustainable production and consumption cycles.

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