The meetings came as a result of a partnership between the Bem Diverso Project and the European Union-Brazil Sector Dialogues Support Facility and took place from October 26th to November 11th in cities in Germany, Finland and the Netherlands. "The meetings have allowed them to learn more about successful experiences in the sustainable use of biodiversity which can be used in Brazil to outline proposals for technical-scientific cooperation between Embrapa and international institutions," says Anderson Sevilha, coordinator of the Bem Diverso Project.
Aldicir Scariot, from Embrapa Cenargen, and Eraldo Matricardi, professor of Forest Engineering at the University of Brasilia, also took part in the meetings. They attended meetings at universities and research institutions, went on field visits; discussed potential cooperation in research and development; and, together with foreign institutions, outlined projects that can build upon what has been developed under the Bem Diverso Project.
"We presented Bem Diverso and the way it operates, putting research at the service of improving the quality of life and income generation of the communities involved. The respect for their ways of life, promoting better management and conservation of biodiversity, the restoration of agroecosystems, committed to rescuing the identity and culture of these communities, their territoriality, intergenerational integration and the promotion of succession in the field was well-received by European researchers," says Sevilha. He adds that it is not just about acting in Brazil, but about acting in this field in general, having science be managed and reproduced by the farmers themselves.
During the trip, they also discussed how to make the actions developed by Bem Diverso sustainable, as the project is heading towards its last phase. "After focusing on the development and appropriation of technologies by the communities involved, with the objective of obtaining products with environmental, health, nutritional and social quality, the time has come to invest in the insertion of these products into the market, taking into consideration all the socio-environmental legacy inherited from this production, and Europeans can do it with authority. Besides, of course, being able to collaborate and go deeper into scientific issues related to the management of species and agroecosystems, the processing of products and their commercialization, the development of necessary processes and equipment. In addition to other related matters, such as credit supply and the development of public policies necessary for the continuity of these actions, as discussed in the meetings", adds the researcher.
The sites visited were Rhine-Waal University, (Germany); Wageningen University & Research, (Netherlands); Luke Natural Resource Institute (Finland); University of Eastern Finland (Finland); and University of Helsinki (Finland).
The Brazilian visitors were presented with research studies which resulted in the development of public policies aimed at the management and conservation of species and ecosystems, and the development and commercialization of products of sustainable extraction practices. Among them were sweets, jellies and wild fruit juices, dehydrated mushrooms, canned meats from native animals and a multitude of other products. In Finland, for example, wooden products are fairly common, as forests and their by-products are responsible for the livelihood of many and make up a significant portion of the country's GDP.
"The cutting cycles happen every 70 to 80 years and the properties measure around 30 hectares, ideally, however, they should be at least 200 hectares in size to guarantee the livelihood of families. This implies the need for developing other activities and, mainly, long-term planning. In addition, maintaining those systems involves the engagement of different generations. In Finland, people own the timber, but forest by-products such as wild fruits or mushrooms are accessible to everyone. In other words, this is an example of land use and sharing enforced not only by law, but recognized mainly by landowners in that country. We have similar examples here in Brazil, such as the Babaçu Livre Act (Free Babassu) in the state of Maranhão, and the informal access given to pequi trees in some places in the Brazilian cerrados. But we still need the recognition of this right by most landowners to avoid many common conflicts in the country. These are just some examples of how we can move forward with these partnerships," says Sevilha.
Brazil to hold meeting in March
In March 2020, representatives of the countries visited will land in Brazil to participate in a workshop at Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology, and go on a field visit to areas where the Bem Diverso Project is implemented. Representatives of other local international institutions working with non-timber forest products (NTFPs) will also participate. The goal is to formulate and define strategies for the development of technical-scientific cooperation projects aimed at promoting the sustainable use of biodiversity and bioeconomy. They will also define the geographical areas for joint action, the different roles to be played, mechanisms for collaboration and funding sources.
The mission is also expected to put the sustainable use of biodiversity as a strategy for its conservation at the center of discussions around public policy agenda, access to credit and development in science and technology. In addition, participants will establish a short-term agenda for scientific and technological cooperation between the European Union and Brazil, and lay a strong foundation for a long-term cooperation between European and Brazilian institutions.
"Sharing experiences is always a very rich opportunity, we to get to know other cultures, other scenarios, other ways of seeing and doing things, and recognize and value what we have and what we do here. It is essential that we realize there will always be something to learn and teach each other. This is the basis of all the work of Bem Diverso and it is in this spirit that we are building this partnership with the European Union", Sevilha concludes.
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