Forest Trends feedback in the Amazon

Posted 26 juin 2019 by Urs Riggenbach.

We started our cooperation with Forest Trends last year in the Amazon with the Surui. Today, the US based NGO reported that "The pilot installation of the Lytefire dehydrator unit for drying the babaçu mesocarp [tree nuts] has significantly reduced from 4 days to 5,5 hours." We hope to be able to continue the good work together and we wanted to introduce you to Beto Borges, Director of Forest Trends’ Communities Initiative.

→ Beto, can you introduce yourself and Forest Trends briefly ? Since how long are you working there and what’s your role ?

Together with partners around the world, Forest Trends pioneers innovative finance for conservation - promoting healthy forests, sustainable agriculture, clean water, robust climate action, protected biodiversity, and strong communities. For the past 13 years, I have been the director for Forest Trends’ Communities and Territorial Governance Initiative, promoting economic, political and cultural innovations with indigenous people and local communities. I have over 30 years of experience working with indigenous and other traditional forest communities to benefit from conservation and economic incentives that recognize their forest stewardship practices. A Brazilian national, I graduated from UC Berkeley in Natural Resource Management and have an MBA in Strategic Leadership focused on social responsibility.

Beto Borges of Forest Trend's Communities Initiative (left), has worked for over 30 years in partnership with indigenous peoples of the Amazon.

→ What are the most significant challenges facing Indigenous Communities in the Amazon today ?

The Amazon is home to approximately 1 million indigenous people with rich and diverse cultures. These unique cultures, as well as the region’s biodiversity, forest resources, and carbon storage are under alarming threats from large-scale infrastructure and extractive projects that largely proceed with inadequate enforcement of measures designed to reduce environmental and social impacts. The key threats are a massive boom in oil and gas exploration, mining, rampant illegal logging and the rapid spread of ranching and farming. Despite these mounting pressures, indigenous communities of the Amazon are deeply committed to creating a sustainable future for their people on their lands. Yet few viable economic opportunities exist for them.

→ The very first pilot with Lytefire is very successful it seems. Now how do you see the next steps happening so that the Surui can actually integrate Lytefire tech in their supply chains ?

Developing sustained income streams from harvesting, processing and selling babaçu products is still in early stages for the Surui People in the Brazilian Amazon. The pilot installation of the Lytefire unit for drying the babaçu mesocarp has significantly reduced the drying from 4 days to 5,5 hours, which is fantastic. One of the Surui’s associations, SOENAMA, already have FSC certification for their babaçu and are trying to sell it to local schools for integrating in meals for the children. Selling to local schools will be a very important step in consolidating their babaçu supply chain.

Lytefire dryer installed at the Surui's village.

→ Do you think that it can be extended to other communities in South America ?

We are confident that appropriate technology such as Lytefire solar dehydrators and ovens can be a powerful and liberating tool for multiple forest communities in all the Amazon and throughout Latin America. The low cost of building these units, wide local availability of materials needed and the relative basic requirements for operating them, make them highly scalable in the region.

In addition to their viability, these units can be easily adapted to process a great variety of forest and agroforestry products, such as cacao, coffee, bananas, Brazil nuts, among others. Therefore, Lytefire’s solar technology combined with Forest Trends’ years of on the ground experience working with forest communities, can directly contribute to increase income opportunities for indigenous and local communities.

As forest communities are strengthened, so is their stewardship of the forests, biodiversity, water and carbon for the benefit of themselves and humanity as a whole.

To read more about our ongoing work with Forest Trends, read here.




Get in touch

Send us an email to