Itaipu goes beyond the reforestation of previously existing woodlands around the lake. The power plant also produces the seedlings to be planted.
Of the 23 million seedlings already planted on the lake's protection strip, 14 million came from the three forest nurseries operated by the company in the cities of Foz do Iguaçu, Santa Helena and Guaíra.
Today, the two Foz do Iguaçu and Santa Helena nurseries work in collaboration with the Western Paraná State University (Universidade Estadual do Oeste do Paraná - Unioeste).
Itaipu nurseries develop seedlings of 75 native tree species, especially peroba (Aspidosperma polyneuron), lapacho (Tabebuia. avellanedae), cedar (Cedrela fissilis), pau-marfim (Balfourodendron riedelianum) and yellow poinciana (Peltophorum dubium).
A program developed by Itaipu to prevent “incest” among trees allows the company to produce high-quality seeds characterized by what scientists call high degree of genetic variability.
These seeds are the result of unprecedented research in Brazil that started in 1991.
The program is carried out by Itaipu's own technicians with support from Brazilian biologist Ingrid Peters Robinson, a University at Albany professor in the United States.
Trees, much like animals, can also compromise their descendents when they produce seeds fertilized by the pollen of other trees in the same family.
In this particular experiment, seeds are produced in an area covering 86,480 square meters (equivalent to eight soccer fields) located near the power plant, where approximately 5.7 thousand tree seedlings of 14 species native to the area were planted.
Seedlings were obtained from seeds collected in nature by researchers according to scientific standards.
A team of experts collects the seeds from at least ten breeding trees of each species at different sites in the area. This procedure allows the recommended genetic variability to be reached.
In collaboration with the Brazilian Agricultural and Livestock Research Company (Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária - Embrapa), the Maringá State University (UEM) and independent researchers, Itaipu has developed over 40 different experiments with more than 180 species of native and exotic trees since 1987.