Brazil’s Atlantic Forest is dotted with quilombos, communities originally founded by former slaves, some of which have been around for more than 300 years. Following the example of indigenous communities in the Xingu area of Mato Grosso state, quilombos in São Paulo state’s Vale do Ribeira region are collecting and selling seeds as a source of income. They ship the seeds by mail, in mixed batches called muvuca, to landowners who use them to reforest degraded lands through direct seeding. The project has not only helped financially empower the quilombos, but also raised the communities’ understanding and appreciation for the native trees and plants of their land. ELDORADO — The first time that somebody mentioned collecting seeds to Seu João Motta, he thought it was the stupidest idea he’d ever heard. Living in the middle of Atlantic Forest, he had always seen seeds as something so abundant that they had to be worthless. Last year he started to think differently. Seu João is a quilombola from Nhunguara, one of hundreds of colonies of former slaves known as quilombos that are spread throughout Brazil’s Atlantic Forest. Started as resistance communities by fleeing slaves, some quilombos are today more than 300 […]

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