Scientists Develop Technique for Forest Recovery in Brumadinho
The result of a partnership between the Brazilian Federal University of Viçosa and Vale, the technique is being used for the first time in the world. The vegetation impacted by the B1 Dam rupture is getting important support in its recovery from new technology. An innovative technique developed by scientists from the Federal University of Viçosa (UFV), in Minas Gerais State of Brazil, in partnership with Vale, which can recover plant DNA and create plant copies, has begun to be applied for forest rehabilitation in the area. Seedlings, that can take more than eight years to flower, can now begin this process from between six to twelve months, which can effectively contribute to accelerate the recovery of the region's biodiversity.
The project, called "DNA rescue and early flowering induction in native forest species in the Brumadinho region", was considered by UFV specialists as a milestone for the genetic conservation of plants and reforestation of endangered species, as is the case for some of the species in Brumadinho. The initiative also aims to contribute to the environmental recovery of the area impacted by the rupture, which is one of the most important premises of the work to repair the damage caused. The project, in partnership with Vale, is also managed by the Brazilian Federal Inspection Service (SIF).
In the field, researchers visit the affected areas and carry out the DNA recovery procedure. “In partnership with Vale, we rescued the DNA of species that are important for the region´s forest structure, such as Jacaranda-Caviúna (Brazilian rosewood), Ipê-Amarelo (Golden Trumpet tree), Braúna (Melanoxylon Brauna) and Jequitibá (Cariniana). We are also producing copies of these plants to ensure the preservation of each genetic sequencing”, explains Gleison dos Santos, professor from the Forest Engineering Department of UFV (DEF/UFV). In all, genetic material was collected from 10 plants, from five different species, including species that are in danger of extinction and protected by law.
The genetic material is taken to UFV and maintained under the most demanding plant health and safety standards. The copying process starts in the field, with the collection of branches from the parent trees. In the laboratory, the branches undergo a grafting procedure so that they are apt to reproduce exactly the genetic material of other plants from small samples.
In addition to rescuing the DNA of endangered trees, the technique also induces the early flowering of young plants produced from rescued trees. With this innovation, seedlings that can take more than eight years to flower, can now start this process from between six to twelve months after field rescue, enabling faster recovery of vegetation and helping to accelerate the restoration process of impacted environments. The forest restoration of 33 hectares is planned for 2021, with the planting of approximately 70 thousand seedlings (and an additional 5 thousand seedlings from 30 different species using the Vale/UFV technology over the next 3 years). In total, 132 hectares of forest were directly impacted by the dam rupture.