In an effort to help protect indigenous lands and other protected areas from invasion, Ricardo and his colleagues at CEDI put together a comprehensive online mapping system. The maps not only gave information on topography and vegetation, they also showed activity in a given area, such as invasions and planned dam sites. Ricardo has since established a new organization—the Social Environmental Institute. This action-oriented group is composed of leaders from the strongest NGOs in Brazil. The institute deals with environmental, indigenous, and general social action issues to help bridge the gulf between environment and development.
Ricardo and the Social Environmental Institute are currently focused on youth education programs that promote sustainable development in Brazil’s Ribeira Valley, where Western conservation models are squeezing out traditional agricultural practices that have sustained the land for generations of families. This program is being supported by the Jewish Community Foundation and the Goldman Environmental Foundation.