Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Vale Encantado

The rural community in the heart of the forest in the center of the metropolis of Rio de Janeiro, that chose to become an ecological model of self-management.

Vale Encantado is a community located in the Alto da Boa Vista neighborhood, in the heart of the Atlantic Forest of Rio de Janeiro, made up of families that for many generations have lived off the resources of the place. Long before the creation of the Tijuca National Park, agricultural production was the main source of survival for these families. In the middle of the 20th century, the process migrated to the extraction of granite, generating great degradation of the natural resources that until then were abundant there. What seemed to show the “tragedy of the commons” (where the available resources, apparently unlimited, are extracted until their total exhaustion and the consequent collapse of the environment), was completely reversed in the 1980s, when the community started to develop ecotourism as a central activity and treat its natural resources as fundamental assets to be preserved. Agricultural activity is once again part of everyday life, but this time on an agroecological basis that enhances the still abundant Atlantic Forest. But the main aspect of this new attitude managed by the community in partnership with universities and non-governmental organizations, in addition to being in harmony with the environment, came from the awareness of having water as a fundamental resource. The sanitary sewage produced there, which was released in natura into the streams of the Vale Encantado, in some places even in the open, exponentially increasing risks to the residents´ health, started to be treated within the community itself with the implementation of biosystems that combine different types of sewage treatments, such as biodigesters and root zones. Furthermore, it started to generate high quality vegetable fertilizer and biogas as sub-resources, which are used in a community kitchen and restaurant, where agroforestry foods produced there are prepared, expanding the cultural and economic resources of the Vale Encantado Community.

He currently presides the local residents' association, in addition to being born and raised in one of the pioneer families of Vale Encantado. Here, he represents the community's collectivity and its self-management process in search of sustainability and resilience.

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