IBC, Bioregionalism in defense of el Cerrado
At a meeting called Nova Terra, in Rio de Janeiro, we learned about the existence of a village with a strong alternative movement near Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. There the IBC, Instituto Biorregional do Cerrado (Cerrado’s Bioregional Institute) was created. One of its main projects is the creation of an ecovillage in the middle of Chapada dos Veadeiros. El Cerrado is the second largest biome in the country and is known as the savanna with most biodiversity in the planet, with an enormous abundance of endemic species of both plants and animals, many of them at risk of extinction due to the fast loss of habitat, caused largely by the relentless advancement of agricultural exploitations, primarily of soybean. The springs of important rivers and hydrological reservoirs existing in this region are also in danger. They are considered to be a water tank for Brazil.
Aside from its environmental aspects, El Cerrado is very important at a social level. Many populations live off its natural resources: diverse indigenous ethnics groups, quilombolas (populations of slaved who once escaped), geraizeros (natives from the Sertão, a semi-deserted area of Brazil), and Ribeirinhos (inhabitants of the riverside), among others, are part of the historical and cultural Brazilian heritage, being great experts about the biodiversity of the region. More than 220 medicinal species, 416 with various practical uses; restoration of soils, construction… and more than 10 types of edible fruits that are consumed regularly by the local population and sold in urban centers, like the pequi (Caryocar brasiliense), buriti (Mauritia flexuosa), mangaba (Hancornia speciosa), cagaita (Eugenia dysenterica), bacupari (Salacia crassifolia), cajuzinho do cerrado (Anacardium humile), Barú seeds (Dipteryx alata), or araticum (Annona crassifolia), this last name being the one chosen for the IBC’s ecovillage, whereby IBC has the intention of consolidating a sustainable human settlement.
IBC was created as an alternative to help the preservation of the El Cerrado biome, since apart from the individual areas of construction (which represent one fourth of the total size of the land), the permaculture design anticipated an area of permanent conservation, planting areas, and community spaces with various purposes. According to this community’s vision, “there is a model of occupation for a harmonious life in El Cerrado which minimizes impacts and thus increases every family unit’s autonomy in terms of food and energy supply, promoting a more integrated lifestyle in nature, using concepts of solidary economics and permaculture.”
Created in 2012 with the purpose of being a center for continuous learning, conservation and recovery initiatives for the Bioregion of El Cerrado, it is a group of diversified training focused on a Sustainability Culture. They want to ensure the creation and incubation of knowledge, dreams, and good practices for a better, fairer, viable, harmonious, happy, and sustainable world. They offer courses, build offices, offer experiences and collective effort work days, with continuous planning for the construction of an eco-pedagogical center in Chapada dos Veadeiros, reinforcing the model of coexistence based on circular decisions, bioregional economics, permaculture, eco-pedagogy, and low-cost social technologies.
Taking into account that 20% of the endemic species in El Cerrado are no longer present in protected areas and that at least 137 species of animals are at risk of extinction, the IBC and its projects emerged with the potential for strengthening the protective movement for this region.
Our stay in this beautiful place was not only enriching but also productive and included a lot of practical learning, reinforced by the communal collaborative and solidarity-based format. We were the first inhabitants of this land, seeing that is it possible to transform any place with love and joint work, with an exchange of knowledge and experiences, with much willingness, creativity, and joy. We’ve learned that everything has a possible sensible responsible solution… in short: sustainable alternatives!
In 9 months, we witnessed a badly constructed and unfinished house that was the only one existing on a land damaged by years of agricultural exploitation transform into the bud of a communal home, thanks to the presence of volunteers who, with skills in permaculture, embellished the place, restoring the walls with red mud and the surroundings with green plants, a house which, after a lot of caring, negotiation, and organic material gathered from the city, once converted into fertilizer, nourished this land from dryness, became productive and alive. Yurts were built with bamboo, ecological toilets, tanks for obtaining rainwater, organic farming of foodstuffs… after we left, we continued to accompany the development of this wonderful project, which is budding little by little, each time getting more and more people involved. The so-called Standing on Earth, meeting of co-creation and acquisition of resources for the project that was celebrated in this place, received people from all over Brazil.
The village Aratikum is presently receiving volunteers and offering permaculture experiences, as it has done since its origins, for the community and anyone who is interested in its proposals, feeling that they identify with its philosophy. Social transformation is undeniable both at the local and the global level, since people work with transformative concepts for themselves in a place of naturally amazing beauty, as its own name reminds us: Alto Paraíso de Goiás.
This is one of many examples which proves that with, willingness and determination, we can create our own environment, more consistent with our beliefs and forms of interacting with Mother Earth. Change and strength are in us, we just have to believe it and continue employing and replicating projects like this, everywhere where there are people willing to fight for the cause. It is essential to ask ourselves what we can do, even if it is something small, which will make a change in our micro-world.
Wrote by Joel Jansa.
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