Champion students of the Restaura Natureza Olympics travel to the Cerrado

21 dezembro 2023

A school group from Volta Redonda (RJ) won a trip to see a restoration initiative in the Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park (GO)
The RioParaibaVive school group, the grand champions of Restaura Natureza 2023 - WWF-Brazil's Brazilian Ecosystem Restoration Olympics organized by Quero na Escola - left their city, Volta Redonda (RJ), for the Federal District, to get to know the Cerrado biome and Brazil's capital. The Restaura Natureza prize trip is an experience prepared by the WWF-Brazil team to broaden students' knowledge through a meaningful experience of inspiration and connections with the various people involved in restoring ecosystems. 

Davi William de Oliveira Ferreira, 16, Heloisy Castro Fonseca, 13, Isabella de Souza Paulino, 13, João Gabriel Ferreira de Matos, 15, and Thalita Barros Fernandes, 13, students from the Espírito Santo Municipal School in Volta Redonda (RJ), are from the winning group in the Judging Commission category of the Olympics, RioParaibaVive, and traveled with their families, companions and the teacher Bruno Jorge Batista dos Santos. In the practical phase of Restaura Natureza, the group promoted a restoration action that included the planting of more than 800 seedlings in an area of 4,900 m² in the Atlantic Forest in the south of the state of Rio de Janeiro. 

The students visited Cerrado de Pé, the Chapada dos Veadeiros Seed Collectors Association, a partner of WWF-Brazil. They were welcomed by Claudomiro Almeida Cortes, president of the association, and, along with other members of Cerrado de Pé, they restored an area near the source of the Ingleses stream, in the Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park (GO), which has suffered from fires in recent years. With seeds from species such as buriti, açaí, juçara, jequitibá, and copaíba (diesel tree), collected by families from local communities, the group used the muvuca technique of direct sowing with a mixture of seeds. "It's essential to involve young people in the work of conserving and restoring nature. This way I know that the restoration will continue until we reach our goal of collecting and planting seeds as many stars as there are in the sky," said Claudomiro Cortes. 

Known as the "cradle of Brazil's waters", the Cerrado is a complex of plant formations that includes natural grasslands, savannas, veredas, and forests with the presence of rivers, streams, and waterfalls. The Restaura Natureza champion students and their companions could swim in the Poço Encantado waterfall, one of more than 120 waterfalls in the Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park. "The positive experiences we had as children and teenagers, whether spreading the beautiful seeds of the Cerrado with our hands or playing in a clean, preserved waterfall, remain in our hearts forever. Restaura Natureza wants all school communities in Brazil to be a priority in society and to be able to expand their connection with nature, just like the RioParaibaVive group. It was exciting," said Gabriela Yamaguchi, general coordinator of Restaura Natureza. 

Student Thalita Barros Fernandes said that experiencing the Olympiad made her rethink her plans for the future. "I was thinking of doing another course, but now I'm thinking of studying biology because I want to help preserve nature.” Like others in the group, she says she enjoyed flying for the first time and taking part in the planting in the Cerrado. 

In Brasilia, the group visited the Botanical Garden and toured famous landmarks in the Brazilian capital such as the Nossa Senhora Aparecida Metropolitan Cathedral, the Three Powers Square, and the TV Tower. The students were also able to visit the Legislative Chamber of the Federal District and attend a session. To end the experience, the RioParaibaVive group went to WWF-Brazil's headquarters, where they were able to exchange experiences with employees and socialize. "Through my daughter, I have fulfilled a dream of getting to know the Cerrado," says Jhennifer Souza, mother of student Isabella Souza Paulino. "When I was a child, I learned about WWF from my science teacher. I remember asking her about the WWF symbol, which was printed on a box of colored pencils," she says, who went on to study biology a few years later. "I feel we've planted a seed of hope in teenagers, which makes me very happy.” 

Restaura Natureza 2023 had 9,269 entries in the online phase, from 275 schools in all Brazilian states. All the winning groups in the Judging Commission category and the winning groups in the Popular Vote category in the WWF-Brazil Olympics received prize kits of conscious consumption products. Experts are also mentoring them to continue the restoration actions developed during the Olympics. 

Restaura Natureza has an institutional partnership with Mauricio de Sousa Produções, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the Scouts of Brazil, the Ecofalante Film Festival, the Brazilian Society for Ecological Restoration (SOBRE), the Doce River Basin Committee (CBH-Doce) and Criativos da Escola, from the Alana Institute, as well as the support of the Bom Ar® brand from Reckitt Hygiene Comercial, and Aegea. 

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About WWF-Brazil 

WWF-Brazil is a Brazilian NGO that for 27 years has worked collectively with partners from civil society, universities, governments, and companies across the country to combat socio-environmental degradation and defend the lives of people and nature. We are connected in an interdependent network that seeks urgent solutions to the climate emergency.  

About Quero na Escola 

Quero na Escola is a non-profit association dedicated to educational initiatives. It uses technology to listen to students' demands for learning beyond the compulsory curriculum and connects volunteers to fulfill requests within the public schools themselves. Find out more: queronaescola.com.br  

The students visited Cerrado de Pé, the Chapada dos Veadeiros Seed Collectors Association, a partner of WWF-Brazil
© Katarina Silva/Coletivo Miracema/WWF-Brasil
With seeds from species such as buriti, açaí, juçara, jequitibá, and copaíba (diesel tree), collected by families from local communities, the group used the muvuca technique
© Katarina Silva/Coletivo Miracema/WWF-Brasil
The Restaura Natureza prize trip is an experience designed to broaden students' knowledge through a meaningful experience of inspiration and connections with the various people involved in restoring ecosystems.
© Katarina Silva/Coletivo Miracema/WWF-Brasil
To end the experience, the RioParaibaVive group went to WWF-Brazil's headquarters, where they were able to exchange experiences with employees and socialize
© Katarina Silva/Coletivo Miracema/WWF-Brasil
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