The farmers who turned a desert into a forest


In a semi-arid region of Bahia, two farmers have managed to create a forest from their depleted soil that was on the verge of desertification.

The Swiss Ernst Gotsch and his “student” Nelson Araújo Filho have implemented an agroforestry system that reproduces the functioning of the original ecosystems in each region.

This method, which has been adopted in various regions of Brazil and the world, combines food production with the restoration of vegetation, attracts wild animals and helps to reverse desertification.

Gotsch, who immigrated to Brazil in the 1980s, turned his 500-hectare property in Piraí do Norte (BA), which used to be very degraded, an example of recovery, leading many people and even multinational companies to go to Gotsch to help with their plantations.

Araújo did the same on 1.8 hectares, an area equivalent to two soccer fields.

In this video, the BBC News Brasil reporter João Fellet met with the two in the semi-arid region to show how, in Gotsch’s words, it is possible to introduce forests and “plant water” on lands in the process of desertification.

  • Research, script and presentation: João Fellet
  • Video and camera editing: Felix Lima
  • Coordination: Adriano Brito
  • Direction: Silvia Salek

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Los agricultores que convirtieron un desierto en un bosque

Ernst Gotsch, quien emigró a Brasil en la década de 1980, convirtió su propiedad de 500 hectáreas en Piraí do Norte (BA), que solía estar muy degradada, en un ejemplo de recuperación.

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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