From left: Horacio Schneider (UFPA), Nilson Gabas Jr. (MPEG), Silvio Porto (Hydro), Marcel do Nascimento Botelho (UFRA) and Morten Dæhlen (UiO) with the signed agreement.

Biodiversity and climate issues in the Brazilian Amazon

Yesterday, on behalf of the University of Oslo, I had the pleasure of signing a renewed cooperation agreement with Hydro and research institutions in the Amazon. The agreement covers a wide range of research projects on biodiversity and climate issues in the Brazilian Amazon. Competence building and student involvement is also an important part of the activities. Here you can read my speech at the signing ceremony in Belém, the capital of the state of Pará in Brazil.


Dear ambassador Nils Martin Gunneng and other distinguished guests from the authorities here in the State of Pará and from Norway, friends of the Biodiversity Research Consortium, Brazil – Norway, ladies and gentlemen!

I was here four years ago signing, on behalf of the University of Oslo, the agreement that established the Biodiversity Research Consortium, Brazil-Norway. It is therefore a great pleasure for me, for the second time, to be here in Belem signing this agreement renewal that extends our cooperation until 2023.

I bring my sincere greetings from our newly elected rector, professor Svein Stølen, to all of you here in the audience and in particular to my co-signees from our partner institutions, Hydro, The Emilio Goeldi Museum of Pará (MPEG), The Federal Rural University of the Amazon(UFRA), and The Federal University of Pará(UFPA).

The Biodiversity Research Consortium Brazil-Norway (BRC) carries out research on biodiversity and climate change issues in the Brazilian Amazon. The various projects provide scientific advice on topics like reforestation and conservation, pollination and seed dispersal. Competence building and student involvement is also important.

A robust organization has been built over the past four years, and BRC has during its first years in operation received a lot of attention, both in Brazil and Norway. Uniting Norway and Brazil, in a consortium with both academic and industrial partners is a rare, however an important construction for our two countries.

Since its inception in 2013, BRC has launched and conducted several projects. Let me mention a couple of highlights from the first four years:

BRC researchers are monitoring and evaluating different methods for forest restoration, i) natural regeneration, ii) traditional plantations, and iii) nucleation. As a result, Hydro has improved the forest restoration programs in their bauxite mine in Paragominas. The next step for this projects is to study how top soil, rich in seeds, roots, fungi and nutrients, should be removed before mining and then stored and distributed before restoration. It is clear that the results certainly do improve the forest restoration success rate.

Moreover, BRC researchers have installed cameras to survey red-listed mammals in Paragominas. So far, more than 150.000 pictures have been taken and studied. Several important species have been identified. The result, so far, is new scientific knowledge on red-listed mammals in Pará.

The next step is to catch a limited number of jaguars and attach GPS-collars to them in order to gain new knowledge on how jaguars live in highly disturbed landscapes. The first such jaguar study will be in the mining area of Paragominas. 

Furthermore, by the end of 2016, a total number of 32 students will have taken part in the BRC research projects, 24 on bachelor level, 5 on master level and 3 on PhD-level. Many more students will participate in the projects in the years to come.

I would like to thank our industrial partner, Hydro, and our research partners here in Pará for your contributions to BRCs work so far. It has been an important and fruitful journey towards the new agreement that we will sign today.

We are very pleased to enter this agreement for another period, and we are very much looking forward to continuing our successful collaborations in the years to come, and indeed to diversifying our collaboration into new areas.

So, I end my speech by wishing ourselves good luck in the hunt for new knowledge on biodiversity and climate change issues in the Brazilian Amazon, new research results important for our industry partner Hydro, and last but not least building more competence together for the purpose of understanding more about our valuable earth.

Earlier today, I attended research seminars on biodiversity, evolution, geological resources and sustainable development hosted by The Emilio Goeldi Museum. I had the pleasure of listening to many enthusiastic researchers from Brazil and Norway talking about their research achievements and new ideas for future research in the Amazon. This rewarding and engaging day, including this wonderful ceremony, reminds me of a quote by the well-known British poet Oscar Wilde: “Nothing is serious except passion!”

Thank you very much for your attention.

(Today, I am also guest writer at rector's blog, where I also mention the two new projects that earlier this week was granted UiO by the Norwegian Center for International Cooperation in Education.)

You might also be interested in these news: Three University of Oslo projects in Brazil and India funded through UTFORSK (only in Norwegian)