Rio +20 Rio +Green Permaculture and Food Forest work shop at Complexo do Alemão community

Rio +20 Rio +Green Permaculture and Food Forest work shop at Complexo do Alemão community

The Role of the Botanical Gardens in a Changing World.

The role of the Botanic Gardens has been transformed over time. Initially

created for the cultivation of plants with medicinal properties and academic studies,

from the eighteenth century on came to be characterized as spaces used for recreational purposes, acclimating plants from other continents, brought

by travelers and becoming a cluster of the worlds flora.


Only recently, the role of botanic gardens in conservation processes became internationally recognized. In addition to the systematic and scientific study, the gardens Botanists assume functions in conservation, especially of endangered or rare species.


With the advent of climate change Botanical Gardens around the world began to play an important role in mitigating its effects, helping with research in assessing the potential of species to adapt to new climates and in different regions.

These findings have strengthened in recent decades, recognition of the need

the botanical gardens in the world, accepting the challenge to undertake a mission

global conservation. This Mission is  expressed collectively in the Strategy of

Botanic Gardens for Conservation (IUCN and WWF-BGCS, 1989), which recognizes the role of botanic gardens as an instrument of  conservation.


In addition to these roles already established, the Botanical Gardens can also support the State to overcome emerging challenges in sustainable development and the eradication of poverty; though environmental education and training the Local Community in techniques that will help create a Green Economy.


In line with the expectations of the Brazilian government as the host of the Earth Summit Rio + 20 , the Botanical Gardens can be instigate economic practices and processes based on the rational use of natural resources; as well as act as agents of economical inclusion of people still fighting poverty, strengthening an articulating these processes. Establishing synergistic relationship between economic development and protecting the environment and also in the consolidation of environmental policies.


Thus, the Botanical Garden of Brasília – JBB developed the proposal called Rio +20 Rio +Green, trying to get attention of  authorities and of the wider community of the potential of these institutions in promoting sustainable development based on social inclusion.

This initiative was instigated from a recent experiment conducted by the Botanical Garden of Brasília in partnership with the Air Force. After forest fires in Brasilia destroyed 60% of the reservation area of  the ​​JBB in 2011, for the first time a partnership between Air force, Botanical Garden and other organizations was established.

To recover these areas the Botanical Garden partnered with the IV Comar of the Air force, and by trained 10-15 soldiers that then planted over 3,000 tree seedlings over the period of 6 weeks.

Soldiers also received training in Permaculture techniques, Gardening and fighting forest fires.

From this successful initiative, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Social Development and the Botanical Garden of Brasília present the proposal to bring a similar action to communities of Rio de Janeiro, to be then presented during the Rio + 20 .

The area, strategically chosen was the “Complexo do Alemão”. This region was known as one of the most violent in Rio de Janeiro. In late 2010, the Special Police Operations Battalion of Rio de Janeiro, along with the military began a series operations to expel the drug trafficking and begin a process of  bringing peace to the community. Thus, the region known as one of the most violent city, currently, is being targeted by the “PAC” Growth Acceleration Program, in a partnership between the federal and state government of Rio de Janeiro. The project includes road improvements, housing and infrastructure in general, and also to end the stigma and violence in the community.


Based on meetings we had with community leaders of the “Complexo do Alemão”, and after presenting several workshops we could be bringing, three main lines of work around Sewage, Energy and Food Security where chosen for this initial step.

Our initiative

Rio +20 Rio +Green

Introduction to Permaculture and Agroforestry Workshops
at the Complexo do Alemão, Rio de Janeiro

“Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than premature and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single project system.”

Bill Mollison

General objectives:

Community empowerment at the “Complexo do Alemão”, through training in local-green technologies for issues such as energy, water, sanitation and food security. Train local communities in techniques that will allow them to take their lives back on to their own hands. Turning local plumbers, masons and farmers in to agents of transformation in a changing Paradigm.


Day 1 -Introduction to Urban Permaculture

History of permaculture, principles and ethics
composting workshop and urban gardening

Reflections on the space we will be working at, Permaculture planning and construction of solar oven

Day 2-3 -Low Cost Solar Heater – ASBC

In order to replace the energy used in electric showers for the majority of the year, The Low Cost Solar Heater or ASBC, consists of solar collectors connected to a water tank lined up with insulating materials so to store the water heated by the sun. This generates savings for families by reducing the rate of electric energy and protects the environment by reducing emissions of greenhouse. If we where to Implement Solar Showers in the 40.000.000 homes that use electric Showers today in Brazil, we  could reduce the countries CO2 emissions by 22.000.000 Tons a year.

Specific Goal:

To enable the participant to size, fabricate, install, and maintain systems
Low Cost Solar Heater – ASBC as a professional or for his own home.

Day 4-6 -Ecological Sanitation

Banana Circle :

Consists of a circular hole one meter deep by one meter wide, covered with organic matter and with banana trees planted with other fruit trees and ornamental species. This technology is appropriate to treat gray water (sink and shower water)

Evapo-transpiration Basin:

The evapo-transpiration basin is an environmentally friendly alternative for the treatment of black water ( sewage water). It is a waterproof  trench made with cement and chicken wire. The trench is filled at its base with construction rubble and bricks. The sewage is directed to a chamber made out of old tires, where anaerobic digestion of the effluents occur. The remaining effluents then flow through the spaces between the tires. From bottom to top, the basin is filled with materials that have decreasing particle size. At the bottom are large fragments of bricks, tiles and stones, then come the rocks, small pieces of bricks, gravel and pebbles. Over that we have sand, gravel, soil and organic matter (mulch). At the very top layer we have plants, such as banana trees that will consume the remaining organic residues.
This process offers several advantages, because in addition to solving the problem of contamination of groundwater, it creates as a result of this process a beautiful orchard
with ornamental plants, improving public space and providing bananas for the local community. It turns a usual problem in to a resource.

Specific goal:

Offer the community the opportunity to learn and build with a sustainable technology that beautifies your space, produces food and does not pollute.

Day 7-9 -Organic Food Production – Agroforestry

Agroforestry (or Food forests) is a system that combines agricultural crops with forest crops, and uses the succession dynamics of native species benefiting the soil, the environment and the farmer.
Agroforestry recovers ancient techniques of traditional peoples around the world, uniting them with cutting-edge scientific knowledge.
Agroforests produces abundant, diverse food and in addition mitigates climate change by capturing CO2 through the trees ( studies today show that Productive Agroforests capture more CO2 then a stagnant tropical forest).
These systems can be used to recover degraded areas, creating soil through the cultivation of various species that generate biomass.

Specific goal:

Offer the community the opportunity to learn and build a sustainable food production system that is: entirely organic, helps recover springs, builds up soil, avoids silting and captures CO2 from the atmosphere.

“The only truly ethical decision is to take each one for himself

responsibility for their own existence and their children.”

(Bill Mollison, 1990).


Photos of the Workshop:


Moradores do Complexo do Alemão começam a aprender técnicas sustentáveis e de baixo custo

Comunidade na Zona Norte do Rio terá oficinas de aquecimento solar de baixo custo, tratamento ecológico de esgoto e plantio de canteiros agroflorestais.



Complexo do Alemão dá exemplo de permacultura

Rio de Janeiro




Você já ouviu falar em permacultura? A palavra parece complicada, mas o conceito é bem simples: criar sistemas de desenvolvimento a baixo custo e com um impacto positivo no meio-ambiente. Um exemplo vem do Complexo do Alemão, no Rio de Janeiro.