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Preserving natural resources while generating income in rainforests

Indigenous communities in the Atlantic Rainforest used to live in symbioses with nature, depending on natural resources, careless of setting up a productive system of any kind. They knew that the balance of nature would provide enough food for their families but now their income comes from selling that same land, breaking that same balance. What if a sustainable farming method could generate income for these communities while keeping the balance of nature? This way they don’t need to demolish the forest to create fields for food production. Guayaki and reNature have a plan.

There’s a way to provide income for indigenous communities without the lost of rainforest. If we set up a sustainable productive system, generate income and regenerate distorted land at the same time, the communities can continue to live with nature, Guayaki asked reNature’s help to investigate the posibilities.

Harvesting herba mate

Generating income without deforestation

To stop deforestation to provide income we need to design an agroforestry system, which will create income for the indigenous community through harvesting. At the same time it has to be beneficial for Guayaki as well. We want to keep the natural balance of the existing eco-system and even restore some of the rainforest on the long term. Agroforestry can be a safety zone between agriculture activities and nature preserve.

Mapping the ecosystem of Paraná’s rainforest

First of all you need to understand the existing situation and ecosystem. This is the logical step in the agroforestry development process. That is why we will start with gathering relevant data from local communities and mapping the ecosystem. We need to map out plant species and biodiversity (biological mapping) and research potential land use (economical mapping). As a result we can set the ideal zones for the herba mate production without breaking the ecosystem.

Felipe and Geoffrey

reNature’s team in Turvo: Geoffrey & Felipe

The team coordinators for this specific mission will be Geoffrey and Felipe. Felipe is the Agroforestry manager of reNature Foundation and Geoffrey is the Research head-officer within reNature.

Felipe has studied Sustainable Agriculture in the Netherlands and Geoffrey studied Agroecosystems Engineering in Belgium. They both did research together on water availability at Ernst Götsch farm in Brazil. Geoffrey has experience with GIS (Geographical Information Systems) and mapping the biological structure of the ecosystem and Felipe has more knowledge on the economical aspects of the design. However, they both will possibly encourage some extra help from other professionals regarding specific information. If you feel capable of helping with any of these phases we mentioned above don’t hesitate to contact us to be part of this journey.

About Guayaki

Guayaki is an international company that sells the finest South American organic herba mate worldwide. Their goal is to restore 17.000 hectares of an indigenous community called Marrecas in Paraná, Brazil by developing an agroforestry system with herba mate as the major crop. reNature will assist Guayaki by designing this agroforestry farm accordingly to the landscape characteristics in which will be gathered by mapping the biological and economical structure of the area.

Paraná Herba Mate Agroforestry Zones Details:

General Info
General Info

  • Location: Turvo, Paraná – Brazil.
  • Size: 17.000ha
  • Challenge: Developing sustainable agroforestry zones for herba mate
  • Period: March – May 2018


  • Assigned by: Guayaki Brazil
  • Agroforestry manager: Felipe Villela
  • Research: Geoffrey Damant
  • Volunteers: Want to help? You can sign up here
  • Supporting Eco designer: Namaste Messerschmitt


  • Establish potential business relationships and partners for project development.
  • Biological mapping: plant species, biodiversity.
  • Economical Mapping: potential land use, including mapping of factors relevant to particular land uses, with descriptions of the reserve.
  • Zoning of the use of the reserve: planning limits of maximum annual withdrawals and sustainability of activities.
  • Second Phase
  • Sustainability based on herba mate management for the next three years.
  • Analyze the potential productive capacity of yerba mate and analyze the recovery capacity of yerba mate given the frequent harvest.
  • Potential, capacity and breakeven point of production and harvest.
  • Deliver tables of production.