Laury Cullen

Ashoka Fellow
Paulista, São Paulo, Brazil
Fellow Since 2002


This profile was prepared when Laury Cullen was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
Through his efforts to preserve the remaining pieces of the Atlantic Forest, Laury came face to face with the human conflict over land rights. Between shortsighted government land reform policies and pressure from landless families, the forest fragments were disappearing and the land quality around them deteriorating. He realized that in all the talk about land reform and titles, crucial elements were not being addressed: the health, productivity, and sustainability of the land itself. To change this, Laury created a program to introduce agroforestry systems that increase production and conservation in and around land reform settlements. He works with farmers on rural land settlements and members of the so-called "Landless Movement" to introduce agroforestry systems, small islands of forested land harboring economically viable crops–for example, organic shade-grown coffee. From an ecological perspective, these forested "coffee islands" help restore the landscape and form stepping stones that allow for the "genetic flow" of animal and plant populations among isolated forest fragments. From a social perspective, the agroforestry systems increase land productivity, family income, and food security. Through his program Laury is demonstrating how to introduce land conservation and sustainable production into land reform policies to reduce conflict and benefit farmers and forests alike.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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