Silvia R. Ziller
Curitiba, Puerto Rico, Brazil
Fellow Since 2002
This profile was prepared when Silvia R. Ziller was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
Silvia is working to balance social development and community-building with environmental conservation, focusing on sustainability over the long term. Working from this vision, she is the first Brazilian to address biological imbalances caused by foreign plant species. Unlike the United States and Australia, which carefully control nonnative vegetation, Brazil has neither public policies nor legal limitations on the growth of species that degrade the quality of soil and crops. Silvia is implementing new, objective models of species control that pose no threat to the sustainability of human populations and the environment. By teaming citizens, forestry, and agriculture experts, her vegetation management program not only offers environmental benefits but also generates income, promotes financial sustainability, and creates new employment opportunities. After effectively implementing her sustainability plans in open grasslands, which are more susceptible to invasions than forests, Silvia can easily apply her methods in other areas of the region and abroad.