Raindrops 1 - Winter Newsletter
Vapour finds itself
Clouds form above the landscape
Preparing to burst
My fellow drips!
RAIN activities began back in February when we sponsored a bus trip to the CAV Agroforestry centre. Farmers learned about regenerative farming techniques, organic pesticides and how to live in harmony with the land, but the most exciting outcome was yet to come.
The bus-driver was Ronaldinho, the town counsellor of Cachoeira do Norte. “Cachoeira” means ‘waterfall’, but in the 1920s the waterfall of the north dried up – a victim of the desertification resulting from centuries of deforestation.
Ronaldinho’s dream is to see it flowing again, and he asked us to finance a sapling nursery in the school to make it happen.
"Trees the means of production, comrades!”
Our agent on the ground in Cachoeira is Wender, an environmental engineer experienced in restoring springs and regenerating the land:
With Wender's help, and with parents and teachers offering volunteer labour, we built a nursery at the school in June. It is a teaching resource where students take lessons as well as a source of up to 1000 trees per year.
A teacher from the neighbouring town soon heard about RAIN, and asked if we could build a nursery there too.
We helped the people of São Sebastião da Boa Vista in July, in partnership with SENAR (a Brazilian rural education organisation). We also put on a course teaching people how to plant saplings.
We financed a third nursery in a school in Recife in October – and this one looks like a spaceship. The students helped build it:
All of the springs in Cachoeira are silted and degraded, and several have dried up completely. Rainwater flows quickly across the bare earth without seeping in.
When streams are approached by cattle they are trodden into muddy puddles as in the image below. Colonised by invasive grass species suited to the poor soils of the Alps, they cannot recover from the legacy of the colonial project without help.
The main expense in restoring a spring is fencing to keep cattle out. We are fundraising for this, and are already fencing off the third of five degraded springs. Members of the local bee-keepers cooperative are providing volunteer labour. Bees need water and flowers to be productive.
Saplings are provided by the school nursery or other partners, and planted by students on school trips to take lessons on ecology into their own hands. We have also begun protecting the banks of the river leading into Cachoeira.
Most of the rivers in the district have dried up, leaving only the Rio Araçuai, where the volume of water is dropping every year - but this can be turned around. Streams can be regenerated. Desertification can be reversed. Targeted reforestation can even make it rain in places where it hasn’t for decades. Community-led projects are cheap and effective, and they can happen with your help.
Reforestation with UK schools
Last week RAIN organised a conference at St. Brendan’s sixth form college in Bristol to plan a national reforestation effort bringing together schools and youth groups, local business, conservation projects and the Woodland Trust – and we were also joined by local MP Kerry McCathy.
There are some great local initiatives to replicate, such as Andover Trees that has encouraged primary schools to tend sapling nurseries at school and taking children to reforest disused farmland. The next step is to join the dots between local projects, and we want lines to cross the ocean with peer-to-peer twinning of UK and Brazilian schools. The possibilities for mirror reforestation actions, fundraising and cultural exchange are endless.
All of these projects arose out of random ideas bounced around our networks. Vapours coagulate into clouds and raindrops lead to rainstorms. Join the conversation, share your ideas, your contacts and your fortunes, and let’s work together to make things happen!
We want your money, obviously, but we also want your help. Please pass this newsletter on, like and share our social media channels: Insta, Facebook & Twitter. The website is still a little sparse, but we will be updating it soon.
RAIN is currently a labour of love pursued by volunteers, and we need more volunteers. Graphic designers, teachers, translators, fundraisers, proof-readers, social media wizards, artists for an upcoming exhibition, landowners anywhere in the world and tree-huggers of every description.
Let us know what you're good at and let’s reforest!
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