The Grupo Ambiental Natureza Bela is a Brazilian NGO dedicated to the restoration of the Atlantic Forest (“Mata Atlântica“), a unique hotspot of biodiversity. The Mata Atlantica is acuallty a mix of interconnected forest types, with an extraordinary high level of biodiversity and many endemic species, not found anywhere else. This biome used to cover most of the coast of Brazil, extending into Paraguay and part of Argentina, but has been reduced to about 15% of its original extension through deforestation and habitat fragmentation. The work of the Grupo Ambiental covers not only the restoration of the forest itself but also the improvement of livelihoods of the local indigenous communities, who traditionally live in the area and depend strongly on the forests.
Their current work covers about 210ha of land parcels in two national parks, Parque Nacional do Pau Brasil and Parque Nacional Monte Pascoal, and in surrounding Indigenous Land belonging to the Pataxó group. The work is done in close collaboration with the local traditional and indigenous communities, through work cooperatives and/or associations. The Grupo Ambiental provides technical and scientific support and assists with the supply of saplings and later monitoring and maintenance. In addition, there are also environmental education and cultural activities that reinforce the connection with the restoration work and the value given to it.
The goal of the interventions is to restore or create ecological corridors, mitigate the adverse effects of climate change through carbon fixation in new forests, and to improve the watershed forest effect to increase the amount and quality of freshwater available in the region. These actions should also benefit local communities, creating new sources of work and income that are sustainable and longer-lasting, thereby improving their standard of living and opportunities.