Regeneration of Ecological Integrity in the Tietê River Basin

More Info


The Tietê River Basin, in the State of São Paulo, Brazil, has been shaped throughout centuries into a highly-industrialized agriculture landscape. Originally almost entirely covered by the Atlantic Rainforest, a rich tropical biome that stretches through most of the Brazilian eastern coast, the basin is now mostly covered by urbanized landscapes, associated with spaces of intense production. First heavily altered by the coffee economic cycles during the 19 and 20th centuries, the Basin has since then been deprived of most of its natural ecological conditions and has lost its ability to regulate and support ecological cycles in this region of southeastern Brazil. Since the 2000s the basin has been going through a process of specialization in the plantation of sugar-cane by extensive monocultures, mostly for biofuels production (alongside the rest of the hinterland of the State of São Paulo). The sterilization of the land and changes in land-use patterns across the region and other neighboring areas by industrial agriculture (such as the Amazon and Atlantic forests) are disrupting to micro and macroclimates, and the effect of such intense exploitation of the soil is already clearly noted in the form of catastrophes. Some of the countless externalities observed in the region are shifting rainfall patterns across the continent, heatwaves, cold spells, wildfires, and issues directly related to health, cause by, among other reasons, the intensive use of pesticides in the latifundia. As the new climate conditions increasingly become a reality, conventional land use patterns must be challenged. Natural resources and the capacity of natural systems to bounce back must be protected. Looking for possibilities of economic stability, in synch with the environment and welfare through the creation of new production systems, distributing the gains and burdens of climate change are among the goals of the project. A literature review, a series of cartographies, and research through design are some of the methods chosen as an attempt to research ways in which the peri-urban landscape of the State of São Paulo can change during the upcoming decades. This project arguments for the necessity of revaluation of the current pivots of the Paulista economy, currently based on the accumulation of wealth by extractive industries and agriculture, and what changes to the urban and peri-urban fabric would be necessary to accommodate this shift.