Light-Communities and Agroforestry: sowing new standards of conduct for the relationship between human beings and nature

On June 17th, the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is celebrated, established by the UN in 1994 with the purpose of raising awareness among humanity about the effects, already at that time, of the predatory extraction of the planet’s natural resources. An increasingly current theme in a world where the climate crisis is an undeniable and overwhelming reality, its consequences unfold in the most diverse environmental problems, such as deforestation, air, water, ocean and ecosystem pollution, loss of fauna and flora biodiversity, abusive extraction of mineral resources, soil and food poisoning by agrochemicals; the issue of desertification and drought is one more chord in a discordant and disharmonious symphony played by the human species.

The desertification process is characterized by the loss of biological renewal capacity of an ecosystem, either as a result of human action or climate variations (most often caused by human action). This is a problem that affects at least one fifth of the world’s population, in more than one hundred countries, causing immense repercussions. An essential element for the perpetuation of life, water plays a fundamental role in the preservation and expansion of biodiversity, and its scarcity transforms spaces into hostile territories for most living beings.

In the counterflow of this chaotic global situation, an alternative for environmental occupation and agricultural production came to light, which works as a kind of antibody in a sick planetary organism. Popularly known as “agroforestry”, this methodology of interaction and integration with nature goes in the opposite direction of desertification and drought, promoting the complexity of life through the enrichment of mineral, plant and animal biodiversity. Restoring archetypal patterns that go back to phases prior to the modern human occupation of spaces, agroforestry systems can reach such deep degrees of complexity that they are capable of reestablishing the entire food chain of the animal kingdom, reaching the apex species for the ecosystem in question; beyond that, the development of large forests can make water veins reappear that had been depleted throughout the times of human mistreatment, and the water returns to sprout from the earth, and along with the water, life from the Earth returns to sprout.

Light-Community of Figueira

Imbued with the spirit of working for life and serving the purpose of preserving the environment, the Light-Communities, affiliated to the Fraternity – Internacional Humanitarian Federation (FIHF), have adopted agroforestry as their main form of agricultural management, in areas complementary to the permanent preservation areas. The initial impulse was given in the mother community, the Light-Community of Figueira, located in the south of Minas Gerais, in a transition region between the Atlantic forest and the cerrado. Since 2014, areas that were used extensively for organic and rotational planting have gradually been giving way to agroforestry systems. The work that was already carried out in a very conscious way in the previous cycle, aimed at recovering land depleted by coffee monoculture and enhancing the soil in a natural way, gained much more strength with the implementation of agroforestry and has been showing increasingly expressive results, both in terms of production and recovery of the original biome.

The Light-Community Fraternity of Aurora, located in the middle of the Uruguayan pampa, in the northwest of the country, has been working in the same tone. The rigorous Uruguayan climate – where extremes are manifested both in winter, with intense frosts and negative temperatures, and in summer, when temperatures exceed 40 degrees Celsius – makes the mission of agricultural production challenging to say the least. This does not prevent the planting work in the Community from being carried out with diligence and determination, season after season, and the agroforestry systems are  also taking their steps at the pace which nature allows.

Following a parallel line heading west, you will find the Light-Community Hermandad in the mountains of the Argentine province of Córdoba. In addition to the extreme cold in winter and long and frequent periods of drought, another major challenge for agricultural production in this region is the wild fauna, which finds abundant food in the Community’s agroforestry systems amid cycles of scarcity in the surrounding area. Seeking creative solutions for peaceful and harmonious coexistence with diverse fauna, the Light-Community continues to expand its work with agroforestry.

Coming back to Brazil, in the mountains of Teresópolis, Rio de Janeiro, you will find the Light-Community New Earth. Over its more than 20 years, the main focus of the Community’s environmental work has always been the rescue of the animal kingdom, in addition to the preservation of considerable areas in the midst of a region of intense conventional horticulture activity. Also receptive to the impulse of the mother community, the Light-Community New Earth has been implanting its agroforestry systems with great success, supported by the propitious conditions of the region.

And the youngest of the Light-Communities, founded in 2021, Flor do Sagrado Tepui of Roraima, located in the rural region very close to Boa Vista, is still in the phase of the first civil constructions to receive its residents, but the first agroforestry system has already been implemented. In this region, the climate is also a challenge, with intense heat and a long period of drought during the year, but even so, the agroforestry is starting to rise on a very impoverished soil and is already bearing its first fruits.

The local work carried out by the Light-Communities, despite its efficiency, does not have a direct impact on the reversal of land in an advanced process of desertification, as in regions of the Brazilian Northeast, for example. But, yes, it is a work carried out much more at the level of consciousness, sowing new standards of conduct for the relationship between human beings and nature, offering its visitors the possibility of getting in touch with a sustainable way of life for the entire planet, and showing in practice that it is possible to live in a balanced way and in harmony with all Life. In order for a real and profound transformation to take place on the surface of the planet, it needs to start in the consciousness.

Light-Community Flor do Sagrado Tepui de Roraima