Name: Danilo Ignacio De Urzedo
My name is Danilo Ignacio de Urzedo, my passion is for native plants and people, and my work is focused on community-based forest landscape restoration. I'm from a lower class immigrant family based in the periphery of Sao Paulo metropolitan region, Brazil. Once the social inequalities in Brazil dramatic limit people access to education, my parents, manicure and locksmith, could only finish high school when they were 40 years old. On the other hand, a national educational program in Brazil in the mid-2000s gave me a unique opportunity, access to the public university. I completed my undergrad in Forestry and Master's degree in forest conservation at the University of Sao Paulo with research time at the North Carolina State University. After my studies, I worked for years with indigenous and rural communities in the Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado to promote ecological restoration actions linked to local livelihoods improvements. Currently, I'm finishing my PhD in Human Geography at The University of Sydney where I research and teach about nature-based solution for climate change and global development.
Brazil is considered to be the most biodiverse country in the world with hundreds of animal species of mammals and over 50,000 recorded species of plants. However, this ecosystem is under serious threat from deforestation, with most of Brazil's natural forests being cleared for livestock feed, such as soybeans, and other farming products. Not only does this clearing has destroyed the ecosystem services, but unregulated farming practices leaves drastic impacts in local livelihoods. Brazil's government has committed to a reforestation target of 12 million hectares by 2030. We need to restore this land, but to do that, we need to replant native plant species. Many of the native species have never been studied or cultivated before. My work is to collaborate with indigenous communities and small holders to investigate a range of plants in isolated areas, learning how and when they grow. We can then learn how to produce them in commercial quantities - for replanting forests and to sell for profit for the local people. I travel to parts of Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado to work with local communities to gather plant data in their area. For example, gathering a plant’s life cycle throughout the year noting down the times when seeds and flowers develop. Data collection has to be simple so anyone can do it.
For supporting community learning processes, I have collaborate with Seed Networks in Brazil to develop learning material focused on capacity building. For instance, we elaborated card games and seeding calendar for teaching young people from Amazon communities about forest restoration and ecosystem services. While I travel, I also give community workshops about seed harvesting, processing and storage in local communities for supporting collectors to improve their techniques. By acknowledging local knowledge and developing scientific approaches of native plant species, local communities can then trade the products from these native plants. This strategy have created new market opportunities for small holder and indigenous communities to sell seeds, fruits, oils, and other non-timber forest products which creates jobs and improves their livelihoods. For me, I get a deeper understanding of how realistic Brazil's restoration plans are and can suggest improvements. Restoring degraded lands in Brazil will be an uphill battle, but the grass will definitely be greener on the other side.
Solutions for climate change will, in fact, be found in broader strategies than merely outlined in technical approaches. Developing countries will not advance alternatives to mitigate climate change if it is not considered to be reduced the social inequalities, poverty and violence. Access to education is a transformative path for inclusion which reshapes values and paradigms to lead society for new perspectives. My experience of life and work is a humble individual example of how public policies and social programs work to promote social change that generates can promote climate change solutions.