Brazilians- they like acronyms. Does the US like acronyms as much as Brazil? Probably, but I am so used to it that I probably don’t pay much attention to them. (right?) On Friday, May 17th we spent our entire day at ESALQ- The Luis de Queiroz College of Agriculture in Piriacicaba. While there, I was able to learn a lot about the history of their campus.. like how Luiz Gueiroz donated his farm to Sao Paulo in 1892, and it became part of USP in 1934, and Luiz was one of the original founders. Another awesome informational nugget: The ESALQ campus was designed by a Belgian landscape architect.
One of the most memorable experiences from the ESALQ visit was a presentation from one of the Professors- Silvio Ferraz, who teaches classes in forest sciences (although he informed me that he is a trained landscape ecologist– COOL!).
Silvio explained the Brazil land occupation:
12% other- agricultural crops, and less than 1% of this is for forest plantation. (This area is growing for the use of wood for economic needs.)
Silvio went on to explain that In the Sao Paulo State, most silviculture is focused on restoration, while in the Amazon silviculture is focused on conservation. Trees grow incredibly fast in Brazil- especially trees that are not native to the area- like eucalyptus. Silvio is actually doing a lot of research on eucalyptus and creating landscape management plans for forest plantations that plant this tree. He went on to explain that this is because eucalyptus uses a lot of water-taking it away from the ground supply. This can create issues for residents of land that rely on wells for their water consumption. The landscape management plans decrease the probability of the groundwater being affected for residents.
Silvio answered a lot of our very frank, yet carefully worded questions. I finally felt like someone was being brutally honest with us. Silvio told us that there is a lot of judgment passed externally on the Amazon regarding deforestation. He explained that there are a lot of social issues involved in the deforestation… so unless you were able to go there and witness the issues on your own, then its not fair to pass any judgment. I have to say that I agree with him whole-heartedly. I know through a lot of my classes that are looking at environmental issues that there can be countless stakeholders who have a foot hold in whatever is going on- often times their personal or family’s livelihoods depend upon exploiting a resource, or protecting it.
After hearing Silvio’s presentation, and getting to know our tour- guide on a more personal level, I left ESALQ with this feeling of empowerment to pursue a PhD. Now, I cannot say if I will be pursuing one next year… but I feel like before this trip I never really gave it much thought. Now I feel like if I pursued one in environmental sociology or other facets of environmentalism I can definitely impact the world like I want to.