Whenever we think about planting, we need to think about seeds first. In fact many large scale restoration efforts are restricted due to the limited supply of seeds. Actually a whole supply chain is necessary to collect, store and prepare the seeds prior to planting. A major solution to the supply problem can be the inclusion of local communities in the collection process. Projects like the Xingu Seed Network have shown how to involve local and indigenous actors, this way creating a win-win-win situation: First, the network buys the seeds from the collectors and creates an additional income stream for them. Second, the great amounts of available seeds allow the network to restore large amounts of land. Third, the land owners can directly seed forests on their degraded lands which allows them to restore their lands in a much more economic way than by planting seedlings.
Seed Muvuca, Picture credit: Rede de Sementes do Xingu
Our operational partner Baoba Florestal, one of the most renowned actors for direct seeding in Brazil, writes the following about this method, in Brazilian Portuguese often referred as muvuca:
„Seed muvuca is a direct seeding method, among the various types of seeding, which can be used in the restoration of forest or savanna formations. The concept of seed muvuca is the mixture of native seeds, green manure, and a filling material, for example sand, to homogenize the seeds. The muvuca can be planted either manually or mechanically. It is highly inclusive, since traditional populations are able to collect seeds in the necessary volume, generating work and income. It also makes the rural producer’s life easier, since he can use the machinery available on his farm to plant muvuca.“ (Source)
Woonderlands is applying the direct seeding technique on all the degraded land that allows mechanized direct seeding of forest. Such a seed mix can contain up to 100 different species of trees, shrubs, grasses, flowers, etc. Some key limitations to the muvuca are precipitation and terrain slope. If it rains less than 800mm per year and the terrain is very hilly or has a slot of trenches, at least the mechanized muvuca cannot be applied. Also the seeding should happen just before the rainy season starts, this way ensuring a good time for the seeds to germinate and stabilize before facing the dry season.
Seeding of a forest using the seed muvuca, Picture Credit: Baoba Florestal
Another regenerative practice where direct seeding can drastically reduce implementation costs are agroforestry systems. When creating the seed mix one can adjust the outcome through fine tuning the relative amount of each seed type as well as the quantity of seeds within the homogenizing medium, this way controlling which species will most likely occur in which density in the later system. This way one may seed a line of trees next to a line of cover crops, grasses, grains and/or herbs. The system probably will be a bit more chaotic compared to seedling systems but the implementation costs are drastically lower.
If you are interested in finding out more about how to collect and seed a forest, get in touch!