The “Mother of the Atlantic Forest” is an important keystone species essential to the health of the forest
Forests are an integral part of our planet as they cover 31% of land area across the globe. Forests purify the air and water, provide homes for animals, give jobs to humans and are important carbon sinks for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, forests are declining across the globe through degradation and deforestation. The leading cause of deforestation is agriculture, as land is used for cattle ranching in many areas. The leading cause of forest degradation is caused by illegal logging.
To minimize the effects caused by forest degradation and deforestation, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) has teamed up with computer company Hewlett-Packard (HP) to plant juçara palm trees in the Atlantic Forest in Brazil. The juçara tree is a type of “Mother Tree.”
Mother trees are known to be able to communicate with each other through a network of soil fungi called mycorrhizae. This network allows them to share nutrients and water, as well as information about threats such as pests and diseases. Mother trees also produce many high-quality seeds, which animals often disperse. This helps to ensure that the forest will continue to grow and thrive, even in the face of challenges.
Mother of the Atlantic forest trees are also highly adaptable to natural challenges. They can withstand drought, fire, and other environmental stressors. This is because they have a deep root system that allows them to access water and nutrients from deep underground. They also have thick bark that protects them from fire.
As a result of their resilience and adaptability, mother trees play a vital role in the establishment and long-term growth of the ecosystem. They provide a safe haven for other plants and animals, and they help to ensure that the forest will continue to thrive for generations to come.
The juçara palm, or mother of the Atlantic forest, is a tall tropical tree primarily used for its palm heart and dark purple fruit called coquinho. Due to overharvesting and clearing for logging and agriculture, the juçara palm is hardly seen in the wild. It is known as the “Mother of the Atlantic Forest” due to its importance to fauna. It serves as food for around 70 species of birds and mammals.
Since 2021. the WWF and HP have been working with local partners, such as REGUA, a non-profit committed to protecting the Atlantic Forest, to replant juçaras in an extensive forest landscape restoration project. They are developing a data bank of the trees by monitoring the Mother of the Atlantic Forest trees’ progress based on their locations. They also collect seeds from the trees and use them to grow seedlings, which are then replanted into the restoration sites.
WWF and HP collaborated to help the computer company achieve its zero-deforestation paper-sourcing targets. Since beginning in 2019, the partnership has helped restore 1,340 acres of endangered forests in Brazil and enhanced the management of 220,000 acres of forest land in China. The local organizations in Brazil managed to plant 390,735 seedlings of 220 species (including juçara palms or Mother of the Atlantic forest trees).
WWF and HP continue their efforts by planting an additional 19,700 acres of forest in and around the Atlantic Forest. They also plan to enhance the protection and management of approximately 128,000 acres of protected land. These efforts will protect the ecosystem, which is home to many plants, animals, and even humans. Increasing tree cover will help regulate the climate and sustain living organisms through medicine, food and water.
Repopulating the area with the mother of the Atlantic forest trees will facilitate the growth of other microorganisms and be a significant part of climate change mitigation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.