There has been a long history of extraction and collection of Brazil nuts from the rainforest of Northern Bolivia and Brazil. The annual collection is very important for the local collectors and processor communities, accounting for over half of these families’ incomes.
The local families depend on the virgin forest for survival, but significantly, so does the Brazil nut tree itself. Interestingly this canopy emergent tree has never been successfully cultivated outside the forest to produce nuts. The magnificent trees are sparsely distributed in groups throughout the forest, where the nuts are wild harvested each year during the rainy season. The trees, which have been found to live for over 650 years, require some very specific forest creatures to help them survive.
The Brazil nut trees life cycle is linked with the special animals and insects that live within the natural forest environment. Find out more about these keystone species in the Pollination and Regeneration pages of this blog.
The Brazil nut tree is a great example of the interactions, complexity and vulnerability of the rainforest ecosystem. The tree and therefore its fruits and the people who depend on them are inextricably linked to the intact standing rainforest and the creatures who life within it.
This blog is to primarily be used as an information source to help put a spotlight on “the story of the Brazil nut” and bring to the forefront the significance of this species as an answer to combat deforestation and promote economic growth in the Amazon forest.
As scientists Wadt et al wrote in 2005 and 2008; the Brazil nut is the principal cash crop in sustaining the livelihoods of many collectors or extractivists…the Brazil nut is widely recognizes as a model Non-Timber-Forest-Product for promoting tropical forest conservation. It is solely harvested in the wild from mature forests and has enjoyed widespread and longstanding economic success in the international market. Indeed, this single species has been credited with the protection of millions of hectares of intact forest in Brazil, Bolivia and Peru (Ortiz, 2002) where its commercial harvest and marketing represents a major income source for rural and peri-urban collectors and processors (Stoian, 2005). Consequently, Brazil nut productivity has become increasingly linked with the long-term reserve viability, particularly given the economic attractiveness of alternative land uses that least to forest conversion such as cattle ranching.