News, Special Articles

Rare black jaguar swims across Amazon river


A rare sighting of a black jaguar swimming across an Amazon river; photo is a screen grab from the video
The head of the World Wildlife Fund was boating downstream on the Tapajós River in Brazil’s Juruena National Park after an epic rainstorm when he came across a sight he’ll never forget: a rare black jaguar swimming across the river.
Carter Roberts, president and chief executive of the WWF-U.S., said it was “one of the most incredible things I’ve ever witnessed.”
Guide Bret Whitney identified the black jaguar and filmed the rare encounter, explained here by Matt Sampson of The Weather Channel:

According to the World Wildlife Fund, jaguars are “strong swimmers and climbers, and require large areas of tropical rain forest and stretches of riverbank to survive.”
Only 600 black jaguars are believed to exist in the world today.
Here’s the original video from the World Wildlife Fund:

Thanks to the Amazon Region Protected Area, 150 million acres of the Amazon are to be protected in perpetuity. That’s three times the size of all U.S. parks combined. In a little more than a decade, ARPA has reportedly protected a California-size portion of the Amazon across 100 different sites.
With more conservation efforts, hopefully there will be more black jaguar sightings such as this one.

* Originally published by David Strege at Grind


News, Special Articles

Orange Cape, Ramsar site since 2013

Cabo Orange (Orange Cape) National Park (CONP) is located near Calçoene and Oiapoque cities in northern Amapá state, 450 km from Macapá, the capital city. The park shares the northern border with French Guiana, the southern border with Cunani Quilombola (Afro-descendant) Area, the eastern border with the Atlantic Ocean and the western border with both Vila Velha Settlement Project and Uaçá and Juminã Indigenous Lands whose populations disputed their territories with Portuguese, French, English and Dutch invaders.

It was the Dutch who named the local geographic feature Orange Cape (as orange is the national colour in the Netherlands) to pay a tribute to the Dutch royalty.

The park was decreed in 1980 (decree n° 84.913) and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (a federal agency run by the Ministry of Environment) is in charge of managing it.

It was the first protected area decreed in Amapá, a state where 55% of its territory is covered by protected areas and indigenous lands. Along with 4 other national parks (Tumucumaque Mountains, Monte Roraima, Pico da Neblina and Serra do Divisor), CNOP is part of the Brazilian Amazon border national parks.

The park covers 657,318 hectares of coastal ecosystems, 54.64% of which has been defined as primitive zone (358,760 hectares), 20.82% as intensive use zone (100,891 hectares) and 20.15% as temporary occupation zone (119,366 hectares). The rest of CNOP covers a zone superimposed on indigenous lands, a conflicting use zone, a special use zone and a historical and cultural zone.

The primitive zone is the most pristine and its flora and fauna has great scientific value. The extensive use zone is mostly formed by natural areas that might have modified by human action. Human populations are settled in the temporary occupation zone.

By integrating human communities living around the park, CONP´s objectives are:

To preserve natural ecosystems that has great ecological and scenic values;

To preserve marine and coastal areas, mangroves, forests, amazon cerrado (savanna) enclaves and associated fauna;

To maintain natural habitats that have been little impacted by human action;

To promote scientific research, environmental education and interpretation, tourism and recreation.

The achievement of these targets has reflected in the excellent conservation status of CONP, allowing the preservation and reproduction of bird, reptile and mammal species, many of which are threatened with extinction. The park preserves species such as: the scarlet ibis (Eudocimus ruber), the American flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber), the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), the great egret (Ardea alba), the jaguar (Panthera onca), the puma (Puma concolor), the oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus), the neotropical otter (Lontra longicaudis), the giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), the giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus), the South American manatee (Trichechus inunguis) and the West indian manatee (Trichechus manatus).

The most common types of vegetation found in CONP and influenced by Atlantic Ocean tides are mangroves, flooded forests, flooded grasslands, grassland savannas and red and yellow mangroves. In grassland plains, the awnless barnyard grass (Echinochloa colona), the buriti (Mauritia flexuosa), the caimbé (Curatella americana) and the tamamuri (Brosimum acutifolium) can be found. Other species found are the siriúba (Avicennia schaueriana), the periquiteiro (Trema micrantha), the andiroba (Carapa guianensis), the açaí (Euterpe oleracea), the maçaranduba (Manilkara salzmannii), the black manwood (Minquartia guianensis) and the quaruba (Vochysia maxima).


Brazil is a contracting party to the Convention on Wetlands of international importance especially as waterfowl habitat, called the Ramsar Convention, and has decided to submit as new Ramsar designations only wetlands that were protected areas, which allows to country to implement the commitments under the Convention.  CONP was therefore submitted and was declared a Ramsar site in February 2013. 11 other Brazilian wetlands are Ramsar sites.

Social Communication Office (Ascom/MMA) – Telephone: (61) 2028 1227

Article originally written in portuguese by Marcelo Carota, translated by Marco Bueno and published on 21st January 2015.

News, Special Articles

Cantão State Park, in the state of Tocantins (TO)

By Cristina Ávila

Environmental management makes the difference

Arpa methodology and the exchange of experience among the protected areas were crucial for the Cantão State Park in Tocantins state.

The Cantão State Park (PEC), located in Tocantins, is a corner of beauty and wildlife diversity, and it is considered to be one of the most relevant protected areas in the Brazilian Amazon Region.  This PA has an area of 90,000 hectares and very special features:  it shelters 843 lakes out of the 1.100 found in Araguaia, besides having an efficient management and achieving results which have turned the park into an example for the country.

Its ecosystem is an ecotone (biomes transition area) between the Cerrado and the Amazon Forest.  There are 44 mammal, 316 bird, 22 reptile, 17 amphibian, 56 fish and 134 vascular plant species in the park.  The preservation of this wealth is due to the joint efforts of the state government and the investment of R$ 1,640 million by the Ministry of the Environment’s Amazon Region Protected Areas Program (Arpa), during almost 10 years, in 2003-2012.

“The great Arpa contribution is the possibility of protected areas organization, of having an organization model”, states Alexandre Tadeu, president of Tocantins Nature Institute (Naturatins), the state environmental agency, in charge of managing the Cantão State Park.

Naturatins president says that Arpa provided the scientific methodology to manage the protected area and also the possibility of its managers taking part in national meetings with the managers of other PAs, so that they could learn the solutions found by them and seek their own path in biodiversity stewardship in Tocantins.

As examples, Alexandre Tadeu mentioned the models for hiring consultancies, for creating the Advisory Council with the participation of society, and for management plan design.

“If it were not for Arpa, Cantão would be in the same way it was 10 years ago.  With Arpa methodology, today we have a lot more knowledge on the park and therefore better conditions to find solutions for the problems”, says Naturatins president.

He mentions the participation of a non-governmental organization, called Missão Verde (Green Mission), in the Advisory Council of the state park.  This organization works with a biofuel producing company and it was created because of the park.  Through the use of tools which they learned in the Council, the organization leaders contribute to diversify the production of the families settled there through the agrarian reform; they created a collective area to plant soybeans to produce a bioenergy fuel.

“Today, in Tocantins, this NGO accounts for the insertion of small producers in the Brazilian Development Bank’s (BNDES) Social Fuel Label, which funds this kind of production”, says  Alexandre Tadeu. “I have seen the farmers planting 200-250 hectares of soybeans in a communitarian way, and the company buys all of it.  This increases by R$ 800 the monthly income of each settler, and there are over 70 families, so this meant a high increase in their buying power”.

Natural resources – The Park is located in the municipal districts of Caseara and Pium. To the west, the Araguaia River places the Amazon Forest into evidence.  Across the river there is the Southern Pará, where the jungle is permeated with areas which were deforested by large farms.  To the East, in Tocantins, there is the Cerrado, with well conserved riparian forests (along the water courses) and the characterized biome up to the margins of the Coco River, which demarcates the Park boundary.

The freshwater within the Cantão State Park is one of its most interesting features.  The PA food chain depends on those waters with their flood and ebb movements driving the fish and suspended organic matter.  There are lakes, lagoons and hundreds of kilometers of “loopholes”, which are the aquatic links between the rivers. During the floods, all “holes” are linked like in a huge reflecting pool.

The park is a true wildlife nursery and a refuge for the giant arapaima (pirarucu), one of the largest fish in the world.  Its meat is highly valued by the Amazonians and it known as the ‘Amazonian codfish’, because it is marketed in salted fish sheets.  In the Cantão Park, the pirarucu can breed and catch is not allowed.  There is also an abundance of tucunaré (Cichla spp.), the Amazonian Peacock bass, which also breeds in this area.  Other animals found in the Cantão State Park include the spectacled caiman (jacaretinga), the black caiman (jacaré-açu), the freshwater dolphin (boto), the giant river otter (ariranha), the spotted jaguar (onça pintada), and various birds, among which there are several diving birds, such as the cormorant (biguá) and the anhinga (biguatinga).

Alexandre Tadeu says that the management plan was crucial to protect such a wonder.  “The consultant lived for eight months in the Cantão Park and he wrote the entire management plan while he was there, meeting with the actors involved in this reserve.  This made the document quite dense and truthful.”

Brazilian Biodiversity Fund (Funbio)

The director of Naturantins for Biodiversity and Protected Areas, Nilza Verônica Amaral, says that the consolidation of the Cantão State Park provides security to the partners who wish to implement projects and contribute with the PA preservation.

Among the partners there is a non-governmental organization, the Araguaia Institute.  “We are users of this Park and we produce knowledge here.  The presence of researchers helps to inhibit hunting, fishing and any illegal activities”, says Silvana Campello, an ecologist and founder of the Institute, together with her husband, George Georgiadis, who represents this NGO in the Park’s Advisory Council.  They are involved in research carried out in the Cantão Park since the 1990’s.

This year, the Araguaia Institute signed a term of technical cooperation with Naturatins and the Onça D´Água Association, to develop the Cantão State Park Protection, Public Use and Monitoring Project, which was approved by Funbio for management plan implementation.  It will focus on protection, ecotourism and income generation activities, involving the community in the park surroundings.

Naturatins plans to have the Park opened for public visitation by June 2013, according to the document which sets the rules of use.  “Cantão Park is the only place in the Amazon where you can watch a river dolphin going about in its natural environment, late in the afternoon, after having your morning breakfast in Rio de Janeiro”, says George Georgiadis.

Results management – All activities developed in the Cantão State Park management are decided and evaluated through methodologies aiming at efficiency. In 2008, the work was approved by the Planning, Budget and Management Ministry’s National Program for Public Management and Debureaucratization (GesPública).

The acknowledgement was a consequence of Arpa’s investment in the capacity building of the PAs managers.  At least nine introduction courses on protection area management, with 300 participants, were provided through WWF-Brazil.  The program also funded the participation in meetings and seminars.

“There was a big change in the protected areas management organizational culture”, reports Gino Machado, a member of the technical staff in Naturantis and the focal point of Arpa in Tocantins state.  He graduated in Business Administration and is doing his Ph.D. in Tourism and Sustainable Development.  He says that, through Arpa methodology, the professionals learned how to plan their mission and develop all activities focusing on this mission.

Gino Machado stresses the relevant role of the German technical cooperation agency (GIZ) in building the managers capacity to deal with the communities.  Besides funding meetings held in the Amazon country areas, the organization provided, through consultants, techniques to facilitate communication.

“In the spirit of capacity building on management for results, the teams were oriented on how to deal with the councils and even how to talk the same language of the communities”, recalls Verônica Amaral.

Naturantins director for Biodiversity and Protected Areas says that those GIZ workshops prepared the technical staff to work with the population and to use alternative materials.  “During those workshops, various techniques were addressed, even how to draw maps on the ground, using a stick or a stone, or using large and small pieces of paper. There is a power break and I cannot use the data-show projector, what can I do? Leave? No.  There were also many discussions on the kind of language we should use.  There are local terms in each place and, if we use the wrong one, sometimes this makes communication difficult”, explains Verônica Amaral.

Projects with the community – The alliances with the populations dwelling in the surroundings of the protected areas are crucial for people to understand the relevance of environmental conservation.

In Cantão State Park, examples of positive results obtained with Arpa financial support include the projects which were developed in partnership with Naturatins and the Rural Assistance and Extension Cooperative (Coopter).

“We work with the communities in the municipal districts of Caseara, Pium and Marianópolis, to develop beekeeping (apiculture), net-lined tanks for fish farming, and arboretums for forest species. This line of work went well with raising the awareness about preservation together with income generation”, says Coopter’s financial director, Antônio Filho.

According to Antonio Filho, the communities used to regard the Park as an obstacle; with the project, and the follow up provided by technical staff who worked with the producer families, they began to understand the reasons for fighting the forest fires and protecting nature.

In Marianópolis, at the Incra settlement called Manchete, where 380 families live, producers are enthusiastic about the beekeeping project funded by Arpa.  “Honey is a complement to our income. We believe in this project because we see the results”, comments Antônio José de Carvalho. He says that their (honey) production has already been delivered to the schools and children nurseries, and some of it is sold in Palmas (capital city in Tocantins) and the neighboring town of Paraíso.

Anísio Pereira da Silva recalls that, before the project, there were four people working with bees.  Coopter provided basic information which completely changed their way of work.  “They taught us how to place the swarm, for we did not know how to place the bee cases; they provided us with direct assistance during two years, and taught us the right distance to place one case from the other”.

Legal – The community started with only six bee cases and today it owns 27 cases, producing 300 kg in each yearly harvest.  The honey eaten by adults and children in the project is not all.  One important detail is that the community is using their collective legal reserve (a percentage of the rural property which must be set apart for conservation, according to the Brazilian Forest Law) to extract their nourishment from it, and this makes preservation even more important.  “We have already raised a fight with those who want to destroy the environment”, emphasizes Hildo Pereira da Silva.

The legal reserve comprises an area of 5,000 hectares and 70km run along the Machado River.

“I did not know what preservation meant.  I was a predator”, realizes Galdêncio Alves de Souza, who is also happy with the production.  “I used to plant, then the animals would come to eat, and I wanted to destroy them.  Now I think differently.  It is like helping somebody, we need to help others, and we need to help the animals from the forest.  Now I plant beans and I set apart some for the dear.  After all, his forest was destroyed.  Time makes us see what we did not see before. Now, I do see”, emphasizes the producer.

Even those who are not involved in honey production end up learning from the project.  “I have been here for 13 years now.  I fight for preservation.  I do not wish to see any animals dying of thirst nor due to the fire.  Everyone here is traumatized by fire; yet there are malicious individuals who light up fires.  If such a person burns the pasture and the crops, the forest will burn and the animals will die”, complains Bernardo Coelho de Resende.

Intelligent patrolling – The time of patrollers merely going around by boat, car, or on foot, in the protected area, restraining illegal activities in the Park through the use of traditional methods, it is now part of the past.

“Today, monitoring is based on indicators.  Lakes, rivers, lagoons, forests, they are all monitored through GPS use; the hours of the field team are controlled, and so are the night watch hours, the outings in the field; and there is a register of fines for the infractions within the park and in its surroundings; everything is done according to the management for results planning, explains the Park’s patrol leader, João Batista.

The way of presenting the information has also been changed.  Today there are not just reports, but also charts are made using the routine data.  “In a chart the information is at hand, easy to visualize.  The drawing allows us to see which types of infractions occur and where they occur.  The indicators are good for the day-to-day work; they are helpful in planning the activities.  Even the expenses are registered and planned in the same way.”

Something which is very interesting in the Cantão State Park is to watch dwellers in the surroundings approve the patrolling of the protected area.  They even report the places where there is pressure from invaders, who are particularly interested in fish, since breeding is abundant.  “The population helps a lot, making anonymous complaints”, says João Batista.

The work is done by Naturatins, with the assistance of the State Police Station for Crimes against the Environment and Urbanism (Dema), which is in charge of monitoring, which in turn is done by teams composed of an expert, penman, agents, and often even the Police Chief herself.

Benefit s for the community – The area which is now the territory of the Cantão National Park was once occupied by hunters – they used to hunt caimans, jaguars, and the giant river otter – for the skin was traded with buyers abroad.  This hunting activity went on until the late 1970’s.  Thousands of animals were killed to take their skin taken off and used to make coats for rich women.  Many local dwellers took part in that traffic; yet their lives did not improve because of it.  Today, however, their expectations are far better due to environmental preservation.

“I bet on sustainable development, it is going to happen”, says Francisca Helena Rosendo Martins, the owner of two lodges and a club with 200 members in Caseara, a small town which is the gateway to the Cantão State Park. “The park is my salvation,” she says.

The female entrepreneur says that all her money is invested in that municipal district, and that the protected area is the reason for her choice of activity.  “Whoever loves Caseara, invests and has roots here.  I love it here”, she says. “The park creation brought with is lots of capacity building for the dwellers along the water courses; for the hotel keepers; the dealers, salesmen and merchants; the boatmen.”

Francisca Helena offers some examples of the action and stirring caused by the park: “during the shooting of ‘Xingu’ (a motion picture by Cao Hamburger, who shot some scenes in that state park), seven lodges and hotels were full.  Lots of people made money.  My mother did the laundry for the team working in the movie and she made R$ 9,000 in one month”, she said.

News, Special Articles

Jaru Biological Reserve, in the state of Rondonia (RO)

By Cristina Ávila

The jungle amidst deforestation                     

Biological reserve saves an exuberant forest in Rondonia.  The decisions to protect it are made together with the dwellers in its surroundings.












Jaru Biological Reserve (Rebio) has 353,000 hectares of forests.  There are cedar, mahogany, Brazil nut, and rubber trees, and the area is inhabited by large mammals and colorful birds which fly over the rivers and creeks.   This protected area located in the municipal districts of Ji-Paraná, Machadinho D’Oeste and Vale do Anari, in Rondonia state, was consolidated through Arpa financial resources.  The area is surrounded by farms, settlements from the agrarian reform, and small towns; and they all participate in the PA management.

In order to preserve the Jaru Biological Reserve, which is a federal protected area in the scope of Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio), the Environment Ministry’s Arpa Program invested R$ 3.230 million in 2003-2012. The funds were used to create the area and also for actions which were essential for its maintenance.

The Biological Reserve was created by decree # 83,716, on July 11, 1979, and it protects an area of 293,000 hectares. By May 2006, a dry line marked the boundary between the reserve and another area of 60,000 hectares, which would later be added to it.  The enlargement of the area was also achieved with Arpa funds.

The line drawn on the map only would evidently be trespassed if the area were not expanded.  With the area enlargement, the Machado River became the present boundary to the west of the area.

During nearly 10 years, Arpa investments went to initiatives such as the management design; the creation of an Advisory Council, with the participation of the government and of the civil society;  land survey; demarcation; signalization; support to scientific research; permanent monitoring of the territory; and the funding of sustainable development projects for communities in the surroundings of the area.

Jaru Biological Reserve is located in one of the top deforester states in the Brazilian Amazon and it is a strict protection area.  This means the area is closed to public visitation and the direct use of its natural resources is forbidden.  This is due mainly to its location between the Madeira and Tapajós hydrographic basins, which is among the Brazilian regions on which there is less scientific knowledge, although it is considered to be an area of endemism in the South Amazon.

This protected area is practically an isle (of preservation) in a highly deforested area; it is connected only to the forests in the south, which are within the Igarapé Lourdes Indigenous Land, where the Gavião (hawk) and the Arara (macaw) Indians dwell.

Jaru Biological Reserve is part of the National Protected Areas System (Snuc), law # 9,985/2000, which represents one of the national strategies to fulfill Brazil’s multilateral commitments to solve the environmental issues — including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which aims at stopping the changes in the ecosystems.

Investment results – “Before Arpa, this reserve used to be invaded, the area was degraded, and there were several social conflicts”, recalls the head of the PA, Simone Nogueira dos Santos.  The most notorious consequence of the investments made by the program, according to Simone Nogueira dos Santos, was the removal of the invaders, as well as of the cattle, and the expansion of the area, which in May 2006 gained 60,000 extra hectares.

The incorporation of those lands, forming a 9 kilometer wide and 100 kilometer long stretch, took over two years of patrolling, patience and courage.  During that period, Simone Santos herself and ICMBio staff members spent several nights sleeping in tents in the forest and faced threats from people who were against the reserve.

“The first position taken by Arpa was to ensure a patrol barrier operating 24 hours a day, between May 2006 and December 2008”, says the head of the Rebio.  She says that the barrier allowed control over who went in and out of the PA, and prevented agriculture tools and agrochemicals to be taken into the area.

During those two years, the travelling allowances (per diem) paid to staff members and even to the police officers were provided by Arpa, to ensure the patrolling, and there was no other source of funds (paying the public officers through Arpa is not allowed today, but it used to be).

The environmental liabilities were quite significant in that stretch of land which would be added to the original area of the PA:  6,000 hectares of pastures, 3.200 heads of cattle, and 30 families of dwellers in the area.

“Our role was to strangle the economy which was irregularly being introduced in this reserve.  As we stayed on, the dwellers were removed.  Finally, between June 2008 and January 2009, all cattle was peacefully removed from the place”, reports Simone.


Decreasing forest fires and deforestation

Forest fires and deforestation decrease are one of the crucial indicators of the results achieved with Arpa support and the enlargement of the Jaru biological reserve; and these indicators referred to the stretch of land which was added to the original PA area.

“Deforestation dropped from 854 hectares in 2006 – the year of the PA expansion – to 51 hectares in the following year”, reports the Biological Reserve Protection leader, Luciano Malanski, who is an environmental analyst from ICMBio.  Between 2004 and 2005, when the Arpa support to that PA started, the deforested area was 1.300 hectares.

Monitoring is done based on the Brazilian Amazon Deforestation Monitoring Project by the National Institute for Space Research (Prodes/Inpe). “After the expansion of the PA, there was a decrease by 17 times”, states Malanski.

Luciano Malanski also points out that the forest fire rate within the reserve, which he analyzed through Inpe’s Forest Fire Data Bank  (BD Queimadas), shows an abrupt reversion from the annual average of 45 firest before the PA’s territory expansion to 17.75 fires after the attached area no longer had dwellers nor cattle.  There were approximately 60% heat sources.

Although the surveys show that the forest fires rate has significantly decreased, the head of the Biological Reserve observes that the numbers were not smaller only because, in 2010, there was a criminal fire in in 600 hectares of the reserve.

“In 2011, no heat sources were detected within the Jaru Biological Reserve.  Those rates show are due to the permanent surveillance of the PA by our team”, emphasized Simone Santos.



Debate with society

All themes referring to the Jaru Biological Reserve are taken to the Advisory Council

The expansion of the Jaru Biological Reserve was thoroughly discussed with the Rondonia state society, through the Advisory Council, which addresses all themes regarding the protected area.

“The Advisory Council took part in the entire expansion process of this reserve.  Meetings were held with all the institutions in order to create a strong basis.  I do not think it would be possible to do it without it. Today, everything works based on the Council discussions”, says Council member Vilton Sanchotene Pinto. He represents Mandala, Art and Ecology, which is a local NGO from Ji-Paraná.

Several meetings were held regarding the removal of people from the Biological REserve.  Around 19 families were transferred to the Jequitibá Forest Settlement Project, a model which prioritizes family agriculture sustainable development.  The rest of the people had other options of where to live.

The Jaru Biological Reserve Advisory Council was created through an administrative decree by Ibama, in March 2006, in order for the protected area to fulfill its role, which is essentially to maintain the ecosystem.  Even though it is a strict protection area, this reserve also has the purpose of saving the natural resources in favor of society as a whole and, in particular, the communities in the PA surroundings.

This forum of permanent debates includes representatives from the federal government agencies, such as ICMBio; from the local governments in the municipal districts of the PA surroundings; from non-governmental organizations, such as the unions of rural producers and fishermen; and from the universities in Rondonia.

“All actors interact and this strengthens the relationship of the communities with the biological reserve”, states Vilton Sanchotene Pinto. He says that the members of the Council underwent training to fulfill their roles in an efficient way.  They also prepared lists of locations where each one of them would give speaches to raise people’s awareness about the relevance of environmental preservation.

“In those speeches, we talked about the relation between the forest and the rainfall, as well as with the infernal heat experienced in some Rondonia cities where deforestation is very large.  The fishermen would hide their fishing equipment and we called them for recycling, to understand the importance of not fishing in an indiscriminate way”, said Vilton Sanchotene Pinto.


Responsible farmers

ICMBio used to be seen as an oppressor by the communities.  Today ICMBio is a partner in projects with an ecological view.  Council members from the surroundings are consulted on every Arpa investments in the biological reserve.

Jaru Biological Reserve creation process, together with the removal of invaders and cattle from the area, annoyed dwellers in the small towns and in the agrarian reform settlements located in that region.  It took a lot of work to make them understand the benefits of nature conservation in their neighborhood.

One of the main characters for changing local mentality was the Vale do Anari municipal secretary for the Environment, Zequiel Santos, who represents the local executive government in the PA Advisory Council.

Vale do Anari has 9,200 people and it is located on the margins of the Machado River, in front of the Jaru Biological Reserve.  Zequiel is passionate about this little town and by the ecological cause.  He is a historian and is presently doing Ph.D. studies in environmental management.  His academic project has to do with the creation of an ecological corridor between Jaru Biological Reserve and a local Extractive Reserve.

“During the process to remove people and cattle, the image of the reserve was damaged in the municipal district.  Public agencies, such as ICMBio, caused fear and represented the oppression”, recalled Zequiel Santos.

One of the initiatives to change the situation, according to Zequiel Santos, was the creation, with Arpa funds, of an arboretum with a capacity of 15,000 seedlings per harvest, in the agrarian reform settlement of Palma Arruda. The experience started with 10 families and this number may increase.

“Family farmers were encouraged to recover the degraded areas, grow agriculture-forestry systems, and steward the margins of the creeks outflowing into the Machado River.  We talked about environmental education in the schools and about sustainable development in the rural and urban area of the district,” reported Zequil Santos.

He also said that the Council members are consulted and that Arpa is accountable for all the investments made in the Reserve, even regarding the patrol actions.  One of the decisions, for instance, was to build the headquarters of the farmers association in the Palma Arruda Settlement.  It is now ready and they are just waiting for a telecenter with free access to the internet, through a partnership with the Environment Ministry and the Communications Ministry.

“We are presently creating the Jaru Biological Reserve visual identity; this is a joint activity, which is done including through the use of videoconference.  Therefore, people are now part of the reserve and the protected area is no longer seen as an obstacle”, concludes Zequiel dos Santos.

New mentality – The work in Vale do Anari achieved significant results.  “No hard feelings were left.  We understand the ecological view and today we think differently.  We now feel it is a priviledge to live near this reserve and enjoy better climate — the wind that comes from there is a cooler wind”, says Geraldo Ferreira, president of the Palma Arruda Settlement Project Small Producers Association, with 200 members.

His wife, Regina Araújo Ferreira, who is a community leader herself, mentions that the other strategy which was used to approach he women was providing workshops, in order to develop handicraft with native materials, such as the Buriti Palm leaves.

“The course on handicrafts opened the doors for us to give talks.  Before that, only the men took part in the meetings; the would always say they had laundry to do and never came to the meetings”, she recalls.  “The course taught them how to make lamps and now they want more.  They want new courses to learn how to make baskets and sieves.”

The farmer families are also interested in new incentives to trade native seedlings.  They plant several tree species, such as rosewood (jacarandá), cupuaçu (Theobroma grandiflorum), tamarind, Brazilian cherry (jatobá), ice-cream bean (ingá), and açaí.

Geraldo says that they were particularly interested in the arboretum after they were taken for a visit to the Reca Project (Joint Venture on Economic Densified Reforestation), which was developed in an agriculture-forestry system in municipal districts in the states of Rondonia and Acre.  Reca Project production started 20 years ago and it originated in the need for survival alternatives for farmers just like them, who came from other regions and were settled there by Incra.  Today, Reca Project is one of the most successful and acknowledged experiences in production and environmental preservation in Brazil.


Fishing under control

Fishing control was not easy.  Fishermen were forced to stop their activity in the places which offered most fish.  But they understand it is worth to control.

Fishermen are also members of the Jaru Biological Diversity Advisory Council and they participate in the meetings and decision making.  After they became part of this forum of debates, they changed their attittude.  They stopped catching species in an indiscriminate way and they understood the need to preserve the ecosystem.

“Without this control, I believe there would be no more fish in the Machado River”, says Manoel Batista Dantas, the president of Z9 Fishermen Association, in the surroundings of the reserve. He estimates that ten years ago the fish stock decreased by 30% , approximately, and it was only after the restrictions were imposed that the stocks began to be restored.

There are approximately 180 professional fishermen and they catch an average of 80 kg per month each.  The chief species caught are catfish like pescada, pintado, tambaqui, pacu and jaú.

Before the restrictions imposed after the creation of the biological reserve, fishermen had an area of 280 km available and catching was free along the west boundary of the PA.  Today, they can only work on the left bank of the river, i.e. the riverside where the communities are located.  They also had to give up their best spot, which was the 18km of rapids, where there is a greater concentration of shoals, in the southernmost part of the reserve, at the outflow of the Azul (blue) Stream, which marks the boundary with the indigenous land.

“Income from fish decreased considerably.  Due to deforestion, the Machado waters became muddy.  It is important to comply with the rules.  This rapids area in the Machado River and the Reserve are the fish nursery.  Today fishermen can understand that.  Fish are found where there is food for them, and the reserve is important to feed them and allow them to reproduce.”, says Manoel Dantas.

Restrictions to fishing were designed based on the Advisory Council discussions of the matter and also on the legislation, which bans catching during the breeding period (defeso), which lasts four months, from November 15 to March 15.  During this period, fishermen receive insurance money from the federal governmental, in order to compensate them for the days off.

Those dates, however, may be changed.  Following what has been observed by local fishermen, the Federal University in Rondonia (Unir) develops a project which may change the dates of the non-fishing period.  Studies made with Arpa funds will produce a diagnosis about the aquatic and terrestrian environments in this reserve.

“Fishing stops in November, and yet in September some catfish species — such as tucunaré, pescada,  piau, and pacu — have already hatched. We can see that during fish cleaning, we can see they are filled with eggs”, explains Manoel Dantas.

The research leader, Rinaldo Ribeiro Filho, who is a professor in Unir’s Fishing Engineering Department, explains that “perhaps the non-fishing season (due to procriation) is incorrectly chosen, since fishing ordering in Rondonia is being done based on other states”.

Rinaldo Filho reports that the research is now in its sixth month of collection and it will diagnose the species living in that place, what they feed on and their reproduction areas.  It will also analyze the quality of the water through the use of computerized plumb lines, and it will observe the vegetation in the riparian forests (along the water courses).  The work will be implemented in two years and the first results are due in 2012.