Gislene Ganade, professor in the department of ecology at UFRN, works on the caatinga restoration project, which is supported by Neoenergia
This is the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, conceived by the United Nations (UN 2021-2030) in order to conserve biodiversity and mitigate the effects of climate change. Aligned with global efforts for the environment, Neoenergia is supporting a pioneering project to restore the caatinga, the only biome that is entirely Brazilian and marked by a history of degradation. In partnership with the Caatinga Association and professors and researchers from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), 2,000 seedlings were planted in the Açu National Forest (RN). The initiative uses new techniques, which can increase the survival of transplanted species, such as the development of large roots, the use of herbaceous plants for soil cover and the inoculation of fungi.
The promotion of research is aligned with the company's ESG (environmental, social and governance) practices and the commitment to sustainable development in all its areas of operation." Restoration programs are seen as the hope for combating climate change and improving the functionality of ecosystems. These are objectives aligned with our ESG practices and our Biodiversity Policy. Most of our 47 wind farms in operation and construction are in caatinga regions and we understand that the restoration process has positive results for both the biome and our business," says Diogo Mariga, Superintendent of Operation and Maintenance (O&M) of Neoenergia Renewables.
The restoration project is part of BrazilDry, an experiment started in 2016 by researchers from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN). In addition, it is part of an international network, TreeDiv, aimed at testing how diversity and species composition can regulate the functioning of ecosystems.
The Brazilian research led to the development of a planting technique with 1 meter of root length, which increased the survival of transplants by 75%. With the support of Neoenergia, 1,030 seedlings were planted in November 2021 as a replacement for this study, as well as 970 seedlings in December, another test initiated to analyze soil cover manipulation techniques using facilitating herbaceous plants and inoculation of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. One month after planting, transplants are adapted to the region and the results of the new research will be monitored in the first half of 2022.
The researchers also collected samples and requested chemical analyses of the soil from the experiment region, with the objective of relating soil fertility and salinity with the survival of transplants. The aim is to understand the most effective ways to restore the caatinga. The biome is present in nine states – Piauí, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe, Bahia, Minas Gerais – with 932 plant species.
Neoenergia also promoted, in partnership with the Caatinga Association, an online course of Restoration of the Caatinga, which had the participation of professors and researchers from UFRN, who provided the most advanced knowledge and modern tools for managers in the region. The training addressed topics such as proper planting, the best species and priority areas for the conservation and restoration of the caatinga. More than 90 federal, state and municipal public managers and decision makers were trained.