Guardians of the rainforest
Mention the Brazilian rainforest and the first thing that springs to mind is the tropical rainforest in the Amazon Basin. But of much greater interest – at least in terms of biodiversity – is the Atlantic Forest, known in Brazil as “Mata Atlântica“. The region between “Rio Grande do Norte” and “Rio Grande do Sul” is claimed to be home to around 1.6 million different species of plants and animals.
Making crankshafts under palm trees: thyssenkrupp’s plant in Campo Limpo, Brazil.
Diversity under threat
But the habitat of this vast population on Brazil’s Atlantic coast is shrinking. Of the original 1.3 million square kilometer forest, an area of only 95,000 square kilometers remains. That’s a massive threat not only to the Mata Atlântica itself but also to the flora and fauna living there.
The primary cause of this devastation is human deforestation. Big cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Salvador da Bahia and Sao Paulo have grown up in the middle of the Atlantic Forest. In response, many civic associations and non-governmental organizations in the country are working to protect and reforest the Mata Atlântica.
Protecting the rainforest
Among the leading volunteers is a team from thyssenkrupp’s Campo Limpo Paulista plant, which opened back in 1961. When they’re not producing powertrain components for the auto industry, the plant’s employees look after some 800,000 square meters of Mata Atlântica around the plant.
thyssenkrupp deliberately doesn’t use the forest area on the Campo Limpo site for production purposes. Instead the employees have constructed firebreaks to prevent any fires from spreading. The team has also set up cameras so that even small fires can be detected quickly. They also plant seedlings in dry forest areas to aid reforestation, and where necessary they cut back growth.
Learning and planting
But thyssenkrupp’s conservation initiative in the Atlantic Forest is also about education and experience. Each year the Campo Limpo team invites around 40 families to take walking tours of the forest. As well as learning a lot of interesting facts about the Mata Atlântica, tour participants get to plant young saplings themselves to help the forest thrive and prosper. Schoolchildren and students are always welcome. The aim is to raise awareness of the beauty and importance of the forest.
What are bromelia? Who were the Wassu and Pataxó people? And why is the Mata Atlântica essential to the survival of the maned sloth? thyssenkrupp answers lots of intriguing questions for its forest visitors.
Eco-mastermind José Carlos Noguero coordinates all the activities. The environmental officer initiated the program and describes it as one of his greatest passions. Talking to him, it quickly becomes clear how proud he is of the project – and also how important he sees the role of the company in protecting this part of the rainforest. “If it weren’t for thyssenkrupp, this part of the forest probably wouldn’t even exist anymore,” says Noguero.
With the support of thyssenkrupp, José Carlos Neguero hopes to save the Atlantic Forest – at least the part that surrounds the Campo Limpo plant.