According to the global survey Easy Day 2019 conducted by Instituto Ipsos, deforestation is one of the topics that Brazilians are most worried about, followed by water pollution and proper waste disposal. In the Southern Bahia Lowlands, these concerns and the need to work in harmony with nature are reflected by the actions of the member institutions of the Development and Integrated Growth Program with Sustainability (PDCIS), an initiative of the Odebrecht Foundation.
In 2018, important results in environmental conservation were achieved in the region. At the Family Houses that are part of the PDCIS, the young students delve into the topic during practical and theoretical classes, which in the last year alone amounted to 1,200 hours of study in environmental education. “We constantly participate in actions that help us to understand the importance of protecting ecosystems and biodiversity,” explained Gabriela Rocha, a student in the third year at the Agroforestry Family House (Cfaf). The Igrapiúna Rural Family House (CFR-I) and the Presidente Tancredo Neves Rural Family House (CFR-PTN) also work with environmental education.
According to Gabriela, classroom debates on the topic help to reinforce the notion that it really is possible to practice sustainable agriculture. “Working sustainably is essential. We can’t just keep taking resources from nature or future generations won’t be able to farm,” she said.
Aline Novais, who holds a master’s degree in Agronomy and teaches Biology at CFR-I, said that the objective of environmental education is to instill in the students’ routine agroecological practices and to encourage them to share these practices with others in the community. “They work to raise awareness of the need to produce in harmony with nature. In 2019, we are working with the students’ families the importance of having septic tanks and of adopting special care in the case of biological waste. Meanwhile, the students disseminate these topics among their neighbors,” she said.
Making a difference
The results achieved in 2018 by the Land Conservation Organization (OCT), another organization of the PDCIS, were of special importance to the families benefitted and the region of the Southern Bahia Lowlands. For example, 27,350 trees were planted by the organization, bringing the total number of trees planted since 2012 to 240,000. OCT also worked to neutralize 32 tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Since 2012, the organization already has neutralized 2,345 tons of the gas.
Joaquim Cardoso, executive director of the OCT, reiterated that the initiatives help to improve the living conditions of the producers supported.” Environmental conservation is the essence of integrated and sustainable development. OCT’s strategy is to share knowledge and experiences with its beneficiaries to help them reflect on how to improve the future of this and other generations,” he said.
Two other important actions conducted by OCT were recovering 30 headwaters (245 since 2012) and installing 20 septic tanks on rural properties. Rogério Ribeiro, coordinator of the environmental conservation area of OCT, said that, “more importantly than just meeting our targets, it’s very gratifying to be able to help empower local actors and replicate the knowledge acquired, which has a positive impact on the lives of everyone involved.”