The rise of the Brazilian Network for Ecological Restoration (REBRE)
Monday, March 27, 2017
What Brazilian restorationists have learned from networking
Have you ever found yourself caught up with your field work in a restored forest and suddenly have a question about the best way to estimate the forest cover? Or planned an ecological restoration project and not know where to get seeds and seedlings you needed? Or had to restore an ecosystem and lacked bibliographic references to inform your work?
Questions like these motivated a group of researchers to create Brazilian Ecological Restoration Network (REBRE). Established in 2010, the network’s goal is to help restorationists unite to build public policies, research priorities and training and to facilitate the exchange of ideas and actions during national and international events. REBRE aims to bring people together with different experiences and backgrounds to share ideas and find solutions to the enormous challenges facing ecological restoration in a continental country like Brazil.
“The establishment of REBRE was a great step toward the integration of research and practice for advancing ecological restoration programs in Brazil,” says Pedro H.S. Brancalion, from the Department of Forest Sciences, College of Agriculture at the University of Sao Paulo. “Researchers now have a better chance to find the major knowledge gaps for successful restoration, while practitioners can better access, discuss and apply scientific findings to their projects. Together, this Brazilian community of restorationists will certainly make a difference.”
In an article for the March 2017 edition of Restoration Ecology, the journal of the Society for Ecological Restoration, authors Ingo Isernhagen, Luiz Fernando Duarte de Moraes and Vera Lex Engel share the development, growth, success and immense potential of REBRE. What started as an idea by 16 researchers who met in 2010 has grown to more than 2,500 members made up of students, technicians, consultants, people interested in ecological restoration and researchers. Today, with its website and communication platforms on Facebook and Google Groups, REBRE has brought together people from all regions and Brazilian biomes. “There is still a lot of space for improvement, but many achievements have taken place,” says Isernhagen.
After three workshops and seven years of experience, REBRE has matured and remains committed to the principles of volunteering, non-hierarchical, diverse, isonomic, democratic and cohesive participation. Engel notes “Agile and democratic communication tools have given REBRE enough permeability and capillarity to reach a great number of people. No organizations have influenced the structuring of the network, whose nodes are made by people and not institutions.”
Rubens Benini, Forest Restoration Manager of The Nature Conservancy Brazil Program adds “REBRE is essential and has been working pretty well. It facilitated the integration and information exchange between several important actors who work with ecological restoration. It is supporting advances in crucial points related to restoration, not only in terms of research and development, but also influencing public policies that affect sustainable development.”
In a relatively short period of time, REBRE’s unique networking model has proven successful. Members of the organization received an invitation to support the formulation of the National Restoration Planning (PLANAVEG), which intends to expand and strengthen public policies, financial incentives and good agricultural practices in Brazil. More recently, other members suggested actions to mitigate the impacts of the Mariana mining tragedy, where a catastrophic dam failure released millions of tons of toxic mud, killing 17 people and was cited in the international press as Brazil’s worst environmental disaster.
REBRE’s internal procedures and administrative acts require collective decision-making, which were instrumental in the creation of the Brazilian Society for Ecological Restoration (SOBRE), an organization that disseminates scientific knowledge and best practices and guides and informs local, regional and national decision-making processes, public policies and legislation related to restoration In fact, SOBRE might be considered the most significant achievement of this participatory approach.
With continental dimensions and dozens of complex vegetation formations distributed along five biomes (Amazon, Cerrado, Pantanal, Caatinga, Pampas and Atlantic Forest), ecological restoration practices are a great challenge in Brazil where so many of these biomes are threatened. “There are no ready-made recipes, absolute truths or unique paradigms for ecological restoration in Brazil,” says Isernhagen. “But, the operation and constant improvement of REBRE and its partner SOBRE will help us to tackle this huge challenge.”
|In the spirit of networking and sharing, the authors, on behalf of REBRE and SOBRE, invite you to join them at the 7th World Conference on Ecological Restoration, in Foz do Iguassu, August 27th and September 1st, 2017. “We look forward to meeting you there and having the chance of exchanging experiences with the world’s restoration community at SER2017!”
Sinop, Mato Grosso, Brazil
Isernhagen, I., Moraes, L. F. D. and Engel, V. L. (2017), The rise of the Brazilian Network for Ecological Restoration (REBRE): what Brazilian restorationists have learned from networking. Restor Ecol, 25: 172–177. doi:10.1111/rec.12480
About Restoration Ecology
Restoration Ecology is the Society’s bi-monthly scientific and technical peer-reviewed journal published Edited by a distinguished international panel, the journal addresses global concerns and communicates them to researchers and practitioners throughout the world
The Society for Ecological Restoration is an international non-profit organization dedicated to promoting ecological restoration as a means of sustaining the diversity of life on Earth and re-establishing an ecologically healthy relationship between nature and culture.
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