Wigold Bertoldo Schäffer
This profile was prepared when Wigold Bertoldo Schäffer was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1995.
The New Idea
The Atlantic rain forest ecosystem is one of the most important and complex on earth, embracing tens of thousands of species of flora and thousands of species of fauna. But it is gravely threatened, in part because its remaining secondary forests are considered of no importance or value by landholders. Wigold Schäffer's goal is to give new value to those forested areas by providing small farmers with new options for their use through the introduction of species such as mate (Paraguay tea), hearts of palm and ornamental plants.Wigold's approach begins with the principle that the diversification of activities (tree planting, fruit and livestock farming) will produce greater economic stability and increased earnings for farmers in the middle term, while providing better living conditions and landscape features for the rural properties. His project's central idea is a production pattern for small properties in which secondary forest preservation is compatible with productive economic activity.Wigold is seeking to demonstrate both the environmental importance of the forests and their short-, middle- and long-term economic potential for small farmers. He believes that, once farmers begin to recognize the importance of forests and enjoy their benefits, they will then be eager to protect them.