Alcoa seedling program takes root in Brazil, generating income for traditional communities

7 June 2024

The first seedlings of the Brazil nut tree, planted this year near Alcoa's bauxite mine in Juruti, is part of the company's mine rehabilitation efforts

The first seedlings of Bertholletia excelsa HB, popularly known as the Brazil nut tree, were planted this year in the area known as “Front 13” near Alcoa’s bauxite mine in Juruti, Brazil.

The seedlings are part of Alcoa’s mine rehabilitation efforts, which in Juruti blend climate action with community development. The Brazil nut tree, native to the Amazon, is classified as “vulnerable” on the Red List of Threatened Species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and many of the seedlings are grown in small garden plots owned by families in traditional communities.

"The partnership with traditional communities is fundamental,” said Susiele Tavares, Juruti's Biodiversity Supervisor. “With their support, these native forest seedlings are produced and used in the areas being recovered after mining.”

In Juruti, a municipality of 60,000 people located in the western part of Pará, Alcoa plays a fundamental role in the recovery of these areas. Since the start of the Juruti mine's operations 14 years ago, Alcoa has recovered 1,831 hectares (4,525 acres) of mined area and, as of 2023, reforested 414 hectares (1,023 acres).

In all, 90 families who live in traditional communities have participated in Alcoa’s seedling planting program. Through a cooperative agreement, Alcoa provides technical assistance and works with the producers to ensure that their seedlings are of good quality. When the seedlings are ready for planting, each producer is paid according to the quantity and species grown. The list of forest seedlings grown in the program includes 150 species, some of which are protected or threatened.

On the banks of the lake of the Juruti Velho Agro-Extractivist Project (PAE), in the Jauari community, Janilce Souza (above) set up her nursery, which has more than 1,000 seedlings. With affection and dedication, she cares for her plants in a mission that goes beyond family sustenance.

"I've been producing seedlings for 15 years,” she said. “It's become a routine to look after them, and I'm very proud of it. We try to help and preserve the environment by assisting in the production of the trees that are used in the reforestation, of which we know that many are threatened. I'm very happy to do this job.”