Instituto Perene: Protecting the rainforest one stove at a time

We spoke with Guilherme Valladares, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Instituto Perene, to hear about his experience with the Moody’s Foundation and the ways we’re helping to support ecosystem restoration and create resilient systems and communities in Brazil. Read about what we’re up to!

Conservation starts in the kitchen

The Brazilian state of Bahia has a highly dense population including many low-income families who live around fragments of rainforest. These families have long relied on biomass for energy and cooking. But something as simple as preparing a meal was harming the little remaining rainforest in the area.

“We knew that to preserve the surrounding rainforests we would need to go beyond the typical ‘command and control’ approach of creating protected areas,” says Guilherme. "We had to understand the needs of these families, enhance their quality of life, and identify tools that would reduce their need to impact these fragments.”

“Instituto Perene was created with a clear objective: identifying mechanisms to conserve the remaining rainforest in Bahia,” he says. One of the most pressing issues in the region was the use of forest biomass for cooking. So, efficient cookstoves became the first project initiative. By changing the technology families use to cook, Instituto Perene could reduce the amount of biomass needed for day-to-day living by 50-60%.

The volunteers making a difference

Our support for Instituto Perene goes beyond the financial. Valladares says, “Moody’s volunteers work right alongside our employees, to help us think of new ways to scale. It feels as though they are a part of our organization and value our work the same way we do.” He adds, “We recently had local financial experts help us strengthen our internal controls and track our expenses.”

Instituto Perene had the opportunity to participate in the Moody’s Future Solutions™ Global Pro Bono Consulting Workshop. During this time, a group of our volunteers developed a plan to increase awareness of Instituto Perene and their initiatives in the U.S.  We also work with them to expand their reach and fundraising into North America.

Our funding allows Instituto Perene to overcome challenges. One of the main barriers to the introduction of efficient cookstoves is helping families understand how to use them. We provide financial resources that allow them to send out teams to train families and produce guidebooks on how to use and repair the stoves. The impact has been immediate, with more families starting to use the eco-efficient stoves.

“During my travels with Instituto Perene to the Kalungas Quilombola community in Goias, my eyes were opened to the power of compassion and practical thinking. The organization's unwavering commitment to sustainability, education, and community empowerment is truly inspiring”, said Tadeu Marcon Teles, Dir-Solutions Specialist, Moody’s Analytics.

Watching our garden grow

We’re now moving into a new area: seed collection. With our support, Instituto Perene is working towards the reforestation of degraded areas, an initiative that requires the native seeds of a tropical savannah biome. Valladares explains, “We’ve started a seed collection group in this territory where we’re finding varieties that can’t be found anywhere else in Brazil.”  

Not only have they been able to increase the genetic pool of the seeds, but it’s also been a great exchange between engineers, foresters and rural farmers. Valladares continues, “At the end of the cycle, we will not only have a seed bank, but also a bank of shared knowledge.”

Our work with Instituto Perene is only getting started, and we encourage you to watch this video to learn more about our partnership and how we’re supporting ecosystem restoration in Latin America. You can learn more about Instituto Perene’s work by visiting their website.

This story is part of a series highlighting the relationship between Moody’s Foundation and its partners. At Moody’s, we take a comprehensive approach to social investing, employee engagement, and pro bono service to empower small businesses and support ecosystem restoration in emerging markets.

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