From Small Steps to Big Impact: Forest Restoration Stories from the Ground

In the southern region of Bahia, Brazil, the Fundo Ambiental Sul Baiano (FASB), the people and nature fund has been transforming lives and landscapes since 2021. FASB focuses on supporting projects that benefit the Atlantic Forest and local communities, promoting environmental restoration and sustainable farming.

"FASB aims to empower communities to develop their own projects. While we also collaborate with organizations and landowners, our main focus is on small family farmers, Indigenous communities and other traditional groups. These communities are often overlooked by other funding sources, but FASB provides them with opportunities to start or improve their projects.”

Raony Palicer, FASB Project Origination Coordinator.

At its core, FASB is dedicated to supporting local projects that restore the Atlantic Forest and benefit families in 23 municipalities in the region. Its main objective is to promote environmental restoration and sustainable land management.

Local project developers can apply for funding, which follows a simple step-by-step approach. Through a competitive application process, projects are divided into two phases: Stage 1 and Stage 2. Each phase has its own funding levels, specific needs and goals. Stage 1 projects are smaller in scale and receive €20,000 in support. If these projects excel in the first funding cycle, they can be promoted to Stage 2, which provides €200,000 in funding. Stage 2 projects are larger in scale and have significant environmental and socioeconomic impacts on the region.
Now, let’s dive into the stories of two successful projects that have progressed from Stage 1 to Stage 2.

Rescuing Good Living – Sistema Agro Florestal Intercropping Fruit and Native Trees

Located in the Baixa Verde settlement in Eunápolis, the Rescuing Good Living – Sistema Agro Florestal (SAF) project is implemented by the Association of Rural Producers of the Community of Baixa Verde. This project aims to restore biodiversity, improve soil health and generate income for 61 families in the community. They achieve this by planting black pepper, banana and cacao across 3.5 hectares, with plans to expand to an additional 5 hectares. By combining environmental restoration with sustainable food production, this project improves the lives of the settlers and has a positive impact on the environment.

“We started with an agroforestry system, intercropping black pepper with live cuttings of glericidis and other crops, but we realized it wasn't enough at landscape level so we expanded to other areas, more crops and practices. Throughout the work, we rescued ancestral practices that were already practised by traditional peoples and local communities. With that, we reconstructed our identity as a riverside people.
We revitalized a tributary source of the João de Tiba River that runs through the community, and we saw the need to add the recovery of riparian forest in that area as well. These changes are bringing more life to the ecosystem, with the presence of local or rare animals from the Atlantic Forest.
We are also actively engaging and mentoring the young generation as stewards of the environment while empowering them to recognize their heritage, land and rights their parents fought for, generating in them a sense of belonging. This includes agroecological scholarships to train agroecological agents to establish and operate tree nurseries, effective tree planting and digitizing ecological and ecosystem restoration. The lifelong skills and knowledge developed from the trainings are not only crucial in tracking restoration progress but will be useful for green careers and shaping a new generation of leaders.
All in all, we are happy about our progress, and we are looking forward to the next stage where we aim to develop a riparian forest. We hope our story inspires others; big actions start small.”
Jheyds Kann is a Family Farmer, Journalist and Activist for João de Tiba River

Forest Restoration and Essential oil production in Ribeirão Quilombola Community

In Alcobaça, the Association of Rural Producers of the Ribeirão Community is spearheading a project that focuses on restoring the Atlantic Forest with native species rich in essential and fixed oils. The project aims to increase income generation for family farmers in the Quilombola community of Ribeirão. Having successfully completed Stage 1, the project is now preparing for Stage 2. With 10 hectares dedicated to forest restoration and 60 hectares for sustainable agriculture, the community is excited to see their dreams of revitalizing their ancestral land come to fruition. It’s a true example of green entrepreneurship in action, showing how nature can thrive alongside community development.

Behind every successful project there are passionate individuals committed to making a difference. Meet Marilza and Osmar, members of the Quilombola community of Ribeirão.

"For us, the Quilombola community of Ribeirão, being part of the FASB project is a dream come true. With the support and funds offered, we are restoring native forests that produce essential and vegetable oils, honouring our heritage and valuing our ancestral species.
The initial stage was a crucial phase, building trust and demonstrating the potential of our community. In Stage 2, we are developing our activities and soon will witness the planting of forests, the extraction of essential and vegetable oils, value addition to produce handmade soaps, and the launch of our brand. This means more food on our tables, dignity and a better quality of life for our people. We also want our impact and lessons to inspire other communities to follow this path, as we understand that income generation combined with standing forests through well-planned reforestation is a path of no return! And may no tree ever again be felled for the mere value of its wood!”
Marilza Machado Biologist, Member of the Ribeirão Quilombola Community and Project Coordinator.

"FASB brought hope to our community, uniting five Quilombola communities to plant forest restoration. Our project has progressed to the large-scale stage and our ambitions are higher, with the prospect of strengthening family income through forest-based businesses. FASB's support is a catalyst for improving the environment and generating sustainable income. Expansion and scalability are crucial because the environment needs more people to carry out restoration work and respecting nature. We are grateful and thankful for FASB’s presence in our region, helping us build and fulfil our dreams.”
Osmar Bernardo dos Santostechnician in agroecology and President of the Association of Rural Producers of the Community of Ribeirão
and Project Coordinator.

Inspiring us to do more

These are just two of the projects that have flourished under FASB's incubation and financial support, showing the profound impact of environmental restoration and sustainable farming on both the land and the lives of the people involved. We place local communities at the centre, supporting them to lead from the front – and the results speak for themselves. These simple yet effective localized approaches make it possible for diverse regional and local stakeholders to meaningfully participate in restoring landscapes and improving the quality of life of communities.

“FASB makes the participation of several local and regional stakeholders possible due to its simple but targeted approach, improving the quality of life of communities and promoting a positive impact on forest landscapes in the region as a whole.”

Márcio Braga, general coordinator of the FASB.

Ultimately, FASB envisions a future where forests thrive, communities prosper and the planet flourishes. Forest restoration can be a challenging endeavour, but these real impact stories are inspiring FASB and partners to do even more.