UESC was constructed in the area of a large cocoa farm. Cocoa trees can still be found only a few meters from its buildings. Since its foundation, it has evolved to become a regional leader in higher education. As it is situated in an agricultural area, the university attempts to improve its ecological role, i.e., by implementing various research activities related to agriculture, focusing on the impacts of farming on the environment. Thus, the project to preserve the Atlantic Rain Forest was improved, and many studies on its fauna and flora have been conducted, yielding a large number of interesting samples to be studied. Here we can find rare species such as the endangered Golden Lion Tamarin. The University has three farms within its domains which function as experimental laboratories.
Nowadays, the State University of Santa Cruz strongly searches to strength its research projects. UESC faces the challenge to meet local expectations, especially in times of social and economic crisis due to the monoculture of cocoa that is greatly endangered by fungal pests. The institution tries to create interactive programs with entrepreneurs, civil associations and agricultural producers which aim to find alternatives to regional development and to solve the communities’ vital problems. As an example of work, there is the recovery of the hydrographic basin formed by the rivers Cachoeira, Colônia and Salgado, an area inhabited by a population of nearly 500,000.