SUMMARY: Cooperafloresta, using both rediscovered traditional ecological knowledge and modern agricultural science, Cooperafloresta is accelerating the natural succession of flora and fauna in agriculturally degraded areas of Brazil, going further than ‘organic agriculture’ and Biodynamics by using agroforestry techniques to bring major environmental and socio-economic benefits to poor rural communities.

PROBLEM SPACE: Agriculture is a highly impactful industry today, using 80% of available fresh water, causing soil erosion, pollution and contamination of food, soil and water, also converting forests into agricultural land and so increasing deforestation, causing loss in biodiversity, degradation of ecosystems, and is one of the main causes of Greenhouse Gases emissions. The ecological agroforestry method is a viable alternative to harmonize agriculture with preserving our environment, recovering forest structure, dynamics and biodiversity, generating a wide range of products with high productivity. Combining agriculture and restoration of the natural environment, is a central issue if we are to properly supply water and food globally, contributing greatly to resolve the antagonism between food production, forest and water availability, with repercussions that go far beyond local and regional context. Sucessional Agroforestry Systems (SAF) can produce food in abundance and simultaneously accelerate the process of regenerating forest life. SAF demonstrates the ability to break with the negative impacts of modern agriculture. The path followed by this revolutionary form of agriculture points to a comprehensive view of sustainability, autonomy and sovereignty of rural communities across the globe.

SOLUTION: The actions of Cooperafloresta developed among 300 family farmers in Brazil, who manage over 1,000 ha of SAFs.

Located in the Ribeira Valley, Brazil and initiated 17 years ago, Cooperafloresta (Cooperative of Agricultural Farmers of Barra do Turvo and Adrianópolis), built a new socio-economic-environmental perspective together with impoverished communities, combining traditional knowledge with technical and scientific knowhow, building a holistic system, and so exercising sustainability. These strategies and concepts take a new look at notions of efficiency and rationality, questioning the Cartesian logic and patterns of agricultural production and consumption of modern day society.

In light of the Gaia Theory, agroforestry is a breakthrough in the practical sense of people and agriculture re-joining Nature. It is trying to understand and use the processes of natural succession, the relationships between species and the natural cycles to produce healthy foods, allowing thus increasing biodiversity and environmental conservation.
The trajectory of this experiment is very successful, expanding from 3 to 300 families, involved and has increased from an area of 2ha to 1.000ha of SAFs. The positive impacts are numerous: soil, water, fauna and flora recovered and protected; avoiding emissions of GHGs and actually fixing carbon in to the soil; increased diversified production of food, timber, medicinal herbs; higher per family average annual income from $ 500.00 to U.S. $ 6,000.00 through the alternative and solidary markets; Recovery of traditional knowledge, cultural and integral dimension of local communities, strengthening their social organization, and developing partnerships and networks; positive impact in public policies.
This project has touched, inspired and trained thousands of people in Brazil through the School of Agroforestry, an informal space and technical skills training facility in agroforestry, where students learn from the socialization experience of Cooperafloresta. Our larger mission is to implement Agroforestry throughout the planet.