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This Brazilian Distillery Doubles As A Paradise For Ecotourism

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When it comes to Brazil’s natural destinations, the Amazon rainforest is certainly the star attraction, but it’s far from the only ecotourism destination that’s worth seeing. On the nation’s east coast, the sprawling Atlantic Forest (or Mata Atlântica) runs from Rio Grande do Norte to Rio Grande do Sul, providing visitors with a spectacular array of native flora and fauna to observe in the wild. Though this massive natural wonder has lost nearly 90% of its original mass over the decades due to deforestation, there’s one Brazilian distillery that’s working to keep the legacy of the rainforest alive.

Located in the tiny town of Morretes in Paraná state, the prestigious Novo Fogo is no stranger to sustainability-driven business. Since their debut in 2010, the company has made great strides within the realm of conservation, instituting initiatives like the football-focused TREE-KEEPER Program and recently debuting their first carbon neutral product, the Bar Strength Silver Cachaça. In addition to these efforts, one of the company’s most ambitious ventures—the Un-Endangered Forest—came about as a direct response to the spirits industry itself.

“Our interest in the environmental problem accelerated because of our unique connection to the plight of Brazil’s forests: we began to use several kinds of indigenous Brazilian wood barrels to finish oak-aged cachaça for our limited Two-Woods series, and the process of acquiring these barrels was fraught,” says Luke McKinley, Marketing Director of Novo Fogo.

“Through an extensive audit of the IUCN Red List of endangered species, cross-referenced with lists from Brazilian governmental agencies, we discovered that most of the Brazilian woods used for aging cachaça were endangered at some level. This posed a predicament for us as a cachaça producer: How could we share the delights of Brazil’s diverse category—including Brazilian wood-aged cachaça—without incentivizing further exploitation of these noble tropical hardwoods?”

In the wake of this dilemma, Novo Fogo sought the help of Dr. Sílvia Ziller—founder and executive director of the Horus Institute of Environmental Conservation and Development—and kick started the project in 2017 with her as the driving force. After several months of careful planning, tree planting began in 2018 with 36 vulnerable species targeted through the program. Today, 2,239 seeds have been collected from 27 individual species, and 1,444 seedlings have begun life on private property across the region.

While the program has certainly done wonders for the maçaranduba, palmito-juçara, pau-sangue, and a wealth of Brazil’s other native trees, they’re far from the only organisms that are benefitting from the habitat restoration. According to Dr. Ziller, roughly 600 different varieties of bird call the region home, with the urutau, seven-colored tanager, and—her personal favorite—the toucan all returning to their ancestral home. Beyond avian life, the Atlantic Forest is also a haven for a wealth of charming indigenous mammals including the maned sloth, blond capuchin, and even the jaguar, offering potential for these iconic creatures to someday wander onto Novo Fogo property for the viewing pleasure of guests and staff alike.

While the Atlantic Forest has certainly seen better days, Novo Fogo serves as a beacon of hope for the future of this natural wonder. While the forest may never again return to its former glory, its native flora and fauna will always have refuge in the heart of Morretes. Novo Fogo may be best known for its incredible cachaça, but the company’s steadfast dedication to preserving native Brazilian biodiversity is an added bonus to keep in mind as you sip your next caipirinha.

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