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Boranda Social Movement and the Atlantic Forest Trail

WORDS BY ANAROLINA LOBO, LUCIANA SAGI, ERNESTO VIVEIROS DE CASTRO, FABRICIO SCARPETA MATHEUS & TAÍS MEIRELES

Engaging society to implement and enjoy a 3,000 km Atlantic Forest Trail

T
he “Borandá” movement calls people to get into the heart of the forest so that the forest can be in the heart of people! The project’s name can be translated as something like “Let’sWalk”. It is a social movement organized by the WWF-Brazil’s Atlantic Forest Program to encourage people to practice outdoor activities in contact with nature. An important focus of Borandá is in the creation of the Atlantic Forest Trail (AFT), with federal and local governments, volunteers and local partners.

Borandá lookout in the Serra dos Órgãos National Park, (Teresopolis -RJ)

The AFT route covers a distance of 3.000 km, joining many traditional trails and passing through five Brazilian states – Santa Catarina, Paraná, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande do Sul, and approximately 70 public and private protected areas. The main objective is to reconcile conservation and development in the region of Serra do Mar, in the heart of the Atlantic Forest.
The idea behind Borandá is to develop the AFP and engage people in the conservation of the ecoregion – which is one of the biggest hotspots in the planet – through outdoors activities, such as trails, hiking, games, business volunteering and outdoor classrooms.
With this strategy of public engagement and recreation activities in national and state parks, the Borandá movement is going to win partners and allies in the conservation of our natural heritage and in the construction of the Atlantic Forest Trail, raising public awareness, appreciation and enjoyment of Protected Areas, and generating employment and income for local communities.

The Atlantic Forest Trail itinerary (designed by Juliana Colussi)

Atlantic Forest Trail Proposal
Amongst the top five global biodiversity hotspots, the Brazilian Atlantic Forest (AF) is considered one of the largest rainforests in the Americas and the most biodiverse biome, but at the same time is the most endangered ecosystem in the world. Hosting 70% of the Brazilian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and more than 120 million people (75% of the Brazilian population), the AF biome is the main provider of water (guarantees fresh water for 1,500 cities and drinking water for 60% of the population), aids in climate control (holds 2 billion tons of CO²), regulates the flow of water springs, ensures soil fertility, controls the climate, protects escarpments and mountains slopes, as well as preserves historical and cultural heritages.
Even though the biome is reduced to approximately 11,7% of its initial coverage, the AF is still present in 17 Brazilian states with 700 Protected Areas that have been included in a recent analysis of irreplaceability index for the conservation of unique species in the world.
The AF’s levels of endemism and diversity are particularly noteworthy, being its biodiversity richness per area higher than the Amazon Forest. Few tropical biodiversity hotspots are “hotter” than the Atlantic Forest in terms of both existing threats and conservation value.
The proposed trail follows the axis of the mountain range known as Serra do Mar (literally Mountains of the Sea). Although it includes the two largest cities in the country (São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro) and several other very populated regions, Serra do Mar also houses the largest remnants of Atlantic Forest.
Although Brazilian National Parks can be a privileged laboratory, especially in cities, for connecting people with nature, and sustainable and innovative socio-economic solutions, the number of visits and the degree of interest in existing Protected Areas in Brazil are still extremely low, compared to the potential and to other countries (Brazilian National Parks receive 8.2 million people per year). Besides the reduced number of visitors, the AF is the main gateway for visiting Protect Areas: it hosts 85% of the whole tourism in Brazilian National Parks.
This context represents an extraordinary opportunity to create a movement to bring people to the Atlantic Forest. The project has set as its future vision that “The Atlantic Forest becomes increasingly part of the life experience of urban people, who will take as their personal business its protection, enhancement and sustainable use.”
The Movement of the Atlantic Forest is an innovative model of mass mobilization that will engage individuals in purposeful actions to guarantee the long-term survival of the forest. As consequence, we aim to generate a sense of appreciation and protection inspired by the best practices of other countries, such as the Appalachian Trail in the United States, and the Portuguese Vicentin Route.

View of the Restinga de Bertioga State Park, in São Paulo (photo: Adriana Mattoso)

Developing a social movement and implementing a long trail
Initiated in 2014, the project is being developed in partnership with federal and state governments, and civil society, aiming to consolidate the landscape through the interconnection of Protected Areas (PAs). Its development is based on promoting the real commitment of the society towards the Atlantic Forest trails through the implementation of techniques that are proven to work on major national and international systems of trails and the adoption of technological tools aiming to engage the society in the PAs’s agenda and dissemination of the strategy.
The project also aims to impact the territorial development through the support of social business based in an ecosystem services program – specifically through the interconnection of the productive chain based in the PAs’s surroundings and brand development to improve the experience of visiting a tourism product with higher added value.
Its conception has three components, as shown below.
1. Structuring of protected areas for the public: the objective of this component is to structure the parks for public use, focusing on the implementation and maintenance of the trail system. This step includes the prioritization of parks and other protected areas that will receive investments, structuring of itineraries and training of protected areas managers. One of the main results of this action is to promote the integration of the Atlantic Forest biome. Workshops are held with managers and local actors to discuss the design of the route, trail management and signaling techniques, aiming to create local groups able to implement and maintain each stretch of the trail. About 70% of the trail already exists, joining traditional trails, historical and rural paths.
2. Integrated itineraries: Training and strengthening of local partners to organize, structure and offer integrated itineraries for the various potential publics. Close cooperation with tourism sector is an important strategy of this component, as well as providing assistance for the parks in the improvement of public use experience, by strengthening the volunteering programs and promoting public and private partnerships. The project seeks to value local initiatives, strengthening existing tracks and touristic circuits.
3. Marketing and Engagement: Through the Social Movement called “Borandá”, the project seeks to communicate and engage different audiences raise awareness, appreciation and enjoyment of the Atlantic Forest and its protected areas. The main channel of communication, mobilization and engagement of the Social Movement will be a digital platform that will work as a space for discussions related to trails and exchange of ideas, experiences and solutions, through a set of technological open source tools created to encourage the society participation in concrete actions.
The project aims to improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding the Atlantic Forest’s most outstanding natural places, species and genetic diversity, through social engagement around the Protected Areas located along the Serra do Mar. It will mobilize large-scale, purposeful action, and build a social movement for the long-term survival of the Atlantic Forest.
The expected results are:
• Contribute to change the relationship between society and natural protected areas, involving politicians, development agents and significant part of the population, from an obstacle to economic development, to a necessary condition for welfare and social progress;
• Contribute to trail management and increase the public use in Natural Protected Areas effectively and equitably, integrated into the wider land and seascape, and relevant sectors;
• To mobilize a new base and different types of fundraising for trails system, by applying this long term and innovative proposal that seeks for financial sustainability and build a mass movement.

Public use in the Pico do Paraná State Park, in Paraná state (photo: Ernesto V. Castro)

Achievements in 2016
In the last year, the project achieved remarkable results, specially related to the engagement of society, public and private partners, one of the foundation actions according to the project planning. Moreover, the project was also able to do field activities, contributing to the physical trail implementation. The cooperation with five states (RJ, SP, PR, SC and RS) protected area regional agencies and the National Agency (ICMBio), for the project “Atlantic Forest Trail”, in Serra do Mar Coastal Zone, continued to be built and strengthened. Also, around 2,000 people were directly impacted by participating in several events and workshops organized, including seminars, meetings, workshops, capacity building and expeditions, held in the five states.

Park managers and local stakeholders in South Brazil discussing the trail trace

The 3,000 km (total length) of the track layout was discussed and detailed with local stakeholders. Approximately 230 km of trails were implemented and signed along the Atlantic Forest Path (actions focused in RJ, SP and SC), through partnerships with local institutions (focal points). In addition, five expeditions were organized for the diagnosis, mapping and signing of the Atlantic Forest Path, trekking around 500 km.

Signing in partnership with local government and institutions in Santa Catarina State

More than 140 organizations were engaged, mobilizing lots of volunteers and connecting Protected Areas through 1,000 km of existing and new trails. The website, the Facebook pages and Instagram profile (@caminhodamataatlantica) are now online and starting to be used by the target audience. Soon there will be also an app with the mapped areas and useful information for the public.
The project was elected as one of the Latin America and Caribbean most transformational initiatives by WWF-LAC, is part of the World Trails Network, and was presented at the IUCN World Parks Congress (Sidney – Australia/Dec 2014), in IUCN World Congress (Hawai – USA/Sep 2016) and in World Trails Network Conference (Tottori- Japan / Oct/16). The project also achieved a design award on “Visual Identity” at the A’ Design Award and Competition.

Borandá Visual Identity Award

Next steps
This was just the beginning, in 2017 and 2018, the project aims to expand its actions and engage more actors and entities that can commit to opening and managing new stretches of the track, as well as maintaining existing trails and holding more events in favor of greater contact with the Atlantic Forest. Also, a process of organizing the Atlantic Forest Trail Governance, website enhancements and launching the app with interactive activities is in progress.
Actions such as exchanges of experiences in the management of trails and engagement of society will take place in the states of Brazil – combining public and private protected areas, as well as the involvement of the Movement in actions of the tourism trade calendar in favor of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism in Brazil.

Borandá movement stand at the Opening of the mountaineering season in Rio de Janeiro

One example of event we’ve already engaged in this year was the Opening of the mountaineering season in Rio de Janeiro, in May. There, we were able to speak with the public about the movement and the Atlantic Forest Path. The public’s response was the best possible, giving us even more incentive to continue the work.
Authors
Anna Carolina Lobo – Coordinator of Atlantic Forest and Marine Program of WWF Brazil
Luciana Sagi – Advisor of Atlantic Forest and Marine Program of WWF Brazil
Ernesto Viveiros de Castro – Manager of Tijuca National Park/ICMBio
Fabricio Scarpeta Matheus – Advisor of Atlantic Forest and Marine Program of WWF Brazil
Taís Meireles – Communication Analyst of WWF Brazil
Contact:
boranda@wwf.org.br
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