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Dow's Project Ybá in Brazil Enriches Amazon Communities, Conserves Biodiversity and Keeps the Forest Standing

Through collaboration, companies and organizations are finding ways to make a difference in people's lives and in the conservation of the environment.

Dow's Project Ybá in Brazil Enriches Amazon Communities, Conserves Biodiversity and Keeps the Forest Standing

Through collaboration, companies and organizations are finding ways to make a difference in people's lives and in the conservation of the environment.

Published 06-17-22

Submitted by DOW

tree canopy

By Ana Carolina Felix

Project Ybá has the power to drive social transformation through collaborative partnerships that focus on development combined with sustainability.

In the last years, I have had the privilege of being involved in significant projects that not only allow us to develop new technologies and improve markets, but, above all, provide positive impacts on the reality of hundreds of people. I could mention thousands of people and projects. However, working in the midst of one of the most emblematic scenarios in the world, the Amazon Forest, I’ve chosen to talk about how we can transform people's lives, and collaborate to address one of the greatest global challenges: income generation and development of Amazonian communities through the conservation of the forest and its biodiversity.

In Breu Branco, Brazil, we have a manufacturing complex that concentrates activities for the sustainable management of planted forests, a carbonization plant and the production of silicon metal, the main raw material used in the production of silicones. We have a unique position in our segment, which is integrated into a global value chain of the business. In addition to production and market relationships, we have in front of us a region that is not only considered the richest in biodiversity in the world, but also houses hundreds of traditional communities, such as quilombolas, riverside dwellers, fishermen, family farmers, as well as rubber tappers and indigenous peoples.

We are talking about a richly diverse ethnic population that employs fishing, craftsmanship and family farming as sources of food and income, and brings together traditional experiences and knowledge that can contribute to the conservation of the biome and the maintenance of the different ecosystems in the region. The dozens of fruit species are an example of the region's potential, which reinforces the myriad of opportunities for sustainable development of the Amazon. It was with this purpose in mind – to transform and innovate in material sciences and impact people's lives – that we developed Project Ybá.

Biodiversity mapping to find fruits and seeds of commercial interest

The name “Projeto Ybá: Conservation that Transforms” was created in partnership with the Peabiru Institute, an organization that works in the region, so that we could honor the identity of the Amazon region, Pará, Brazil and the indigenous people. Ybá, in the Tupi Guarani language, means tree or fruit, an allusion to the union that strengthens and bears fruit. Using the indigenous dialect, we seek to value our land and our origins, extolling a country full of opportunities. After mapping the biodiversity and social demographics and resources of local communities in the municipality of Breu Branco, the project is now being implemented.

Mapping was carried out in Dow's 38,000 hectares of preserved area, where the Peabiru Institute identified 17 plant species of commercial interest for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. Of the species identified, four are of interest to cosmetics brand Natura – part of the Natura & Co group, the fourth largest personal care company in the world and our first commercial partner in the project.

Transforming social development of local communities by providing sustainable extraction training

Twenty-five communities were part of the social mapping, and the project selected the Vila Mamorana Farmers Association, made up mostly of black and brown women, to boost socio-economic development in the region. The association will be the organization responsible for the sustainable extraction of fruits and seeds from the forest, initially allocating this production to a partner cooperative that already supplies Natura, which will sell it. In a second step, with the support of Natura and guidance from the Peabiru Institute, the association will be structured and trained – both in terms of processes and technical capacities necessary to supply bioactives to the market through sustainable and regenerative management.

Project Ybá – Conserving the Amazon rainforest, increasing local family incomes and generating value-added products

Like other projects developed in the Amazon region, Project Ybá has the power to drive social transformation through collaborative partnerships that focus on development combined with sustainability. It represents the path where science, innovation and inclusion can provide social impact, helping these families to be trained – bringing together the practices and knowledge they have about the forest, with new organization and management tools so that they can tread new paths. It is a journey of inclusion, growth, and expansion of the care that these families exercise in protecting the forest. This will give them the opportunity to play a leading role in the development of a new business ecosystem, building a bioeconomy production chain through the sustainable extraction of bioactives in the region.

Ana Carolina Felix, Dow Consumer Solutions Sustainability Director for the Americas

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