Spotlight on the UNEP Goodwill Ambassadors

Forests for our Future

by Gisele Bündchen

My passion for the environment is rooted in my Brazilian upbringing. I am blessed to have lived in a small village and grown up in a family that embraced the importance of nature and community coexisting in harmony. These childhood lessons are the basis for my journey into becoming an environmental advocate. However, it is the birth of my son that has made clear the kind of legacy that I would like to pass on to my children’s generation. They deserve the same chance we have had to enjoy and celebrate this beautiful planet.

I founded the Agua Limpa Project with my father and family in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, my childhood home in southern Brazil. The project aims to restore the quality of urban drinking water. Toachieve the preservation of water as well as the recovery of the riparian forest, the project has to provide local communities with information on the importance of soil conservation and fighting pollution. Knowledge is power; we all have learned the lesson that if we look after the forest, it will look after us.

In addition, I support Florestas do Futuro, an important reforestation project with similar goals to Agua Limpa, but on a larger scale. Florestas do Futuro is run by a Brazilian nonprofit organisation fighting for the protection of the Atlantic Forest. The 330-million-acre Atlantic Forest harbours a range of biological diversity similar to that of the Amazon. It accounts for 5% of all vertebrates on Earth. This includes almost two hundred bird species that areunique to the forest and 60% of all of Brazil’s threatened animal species.

Ninety-three per cent of the Atlantic Forest has been cleared, placing it on a path to ecological disaster. This deforestation directly threatens around 2,200 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. The continuing threats to this delicate ecosystem include illegal extraction of valuable timber species, land conversion to pasture, agriculture, forest plantations, and expanding urban and suburban development.

These ecological pressures not only endanger the Atlantic Forest’s biological diversity but also threaten the forest’s traditional rural communities. The native community’s livelihoods are directly linked to the conservation and sustainable use of the forest’s natural resources.

Through well-coordinated programs of reforestation and recovery of native species, Florestas do Futuro is seeking to reverse these negative trends to ensure the forest supports a diverse range of plant and animal life forever.

Agua Limpa and Florestas do Futuro are working to ensure that the next generation will have the same opportunity to marvel at nature that I did as a young girl growing up in Brazil. I cannot think of any better gift to offer to our children.

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