Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Core team: Bruno Rutman, Pedro Rutman, Bruno Ferrari

Biomimicry Mentor: Lindsay James

Advisory Board: Emerson Freitas, Gilberto Terra, Davi Daminelli

Nucleário: Restoring Native Forests


Inspired by winged seeds, bromeliads, and forest leaf litter, Nucleário offers a smarter, cheaper, and faster approach for large-scale forest restoration by providing innovative products proven to reduce seedling maintenance. The Nucleário Planting System eliminates the need for irrigation, herbicides, and pesticides.

1. What is the problem you’re trying to solve and how does your design help?

Traditional rain forest restoration is logistically complex and expensive, requiring 3 years of intensive maintenance to water the seedling and apply herbicides and pesticides to kill invasive grasses and leaf-cutter ants. Inspired by nature, the Nucleário Planting System is a device that is installed around the seedling. Made of biodegradable materials, it ensures that seedlings survive by providing protection from leaf cutter ants, collecting water from rain and dew, offering shade, and protecting against invasive species, like Brachiaria grass. In the field, the Nucleário improves the working conditions of the planting teams and reduces costs for labor, transport, irrigation, fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. In Brazil, the need for forest restoration exceeds the current capacity of forest restoration service providers. Using Nucleário units will allow these companies to improve their efficiency dramatically and plant more trees in less time.

2. What makes your design different than previous or current approaches to the problem you’re trying to solve?

The current approach for forest restoration is highly labor-intensive and requires toxic pesticides and herbicides in addition to irrigation. Nucleário’s design provides multiple functions including collecting rain and dew water, protecting from leaf cutter ants and invasive species (especially Brachiaria grass), and shading the seedling. Easy to install in the field, the Nucleário Planting System transforms the forest restoration process to be simpler and more cost-effective.

3. How did you apply lessons from living organisms to your design and what difference did that make?

Inspired by winged seeds, forest leaf litter and bromeliads, Nucleário was designed to improve forest restoration by performing multiple functions independent of human maintenance, biodegrading at the end of its useful life. Inspired by the graceful air dispersal of Bignoniaceae anemocoric seeds, Nucleário’s design is lightweight and structurally sound. Working like the Atlantic Rainforest leaflitter, Nucleário protects the soil from leaching and damage caused by high solar radiation, resulting in elevated soil moisture and fertility. Additionally, the Nucleário decomposition process is designed to release nutrients slowly to the soil, nurturing the tree at the end of its useful life. Inspired by the genius of the Tank bromeliad’s hydraulic adaptation, Nucleário’s trap shape accumulates dew and rain water, hinders evaporation, and then slowly hydrates the seedlings through capillary action during the dry seasons. This water accumulation creates a micro-environment, improving biodiversity of fungi, bacteria, insects, and amphibians.

Let’s walk together in this forest revolution! Learn more and follow us at nucleario.com.

Read about Nucleário’s 2018 Ray of Hope Prize win.

Addresses Sustainable Development Goals: Climate Action (#13), Life On Land (#15).