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FEATURE STORY

Brazil: government and communities work together to protect the Amazon rainforest

October 17, 2012

Around 30% of the 25 million people who live in the Amazon are in rural, isolated areas. Still, public consultations were carried out with the help of local associations.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Upon completion in 2018, the Amazon Protected Areas Program (ARPA) will cover nearly 70 million hectares of rainforest.
  • Over the last 10 years, local communities helped structure productive projects and define land use policies.
  • The success of ARPA has also spurred on the development of a new project focusing on better managing marine habitats.

Listening to the local communities was key to the success of the Amazon Protected Areas Program (ARPA) since implementation began in 2002. It wasn’t easy, given that 30% of the 25 million people who live in the Amazon are in rural, isolated areas, without Internet access.

“When you’re leaving Brasilia – in the middle of the Brazilian territory – heading to the Amazon, the shortest trip you can take is to Belem, which is two and a half hours away if you fly,” says World Bank’s Senior Environmental Specialist Adriana Moreira, Project Manager. “In addition, trips by car and by boat are always needed to reach the conservation units.”

Still, public consultations were undertaken with several communities over the last 10 years thanks to the help of local associations (formed by rubber tappers, river populations, indigenous peoples, etc.). “They form a social fabric that is extremely important in the Amazon,” she notes.

These talks helped define policies for land occupation and management, for example. Conservation parks were created throughout the Amazon, as along with areas for sustainable use. Each conservation unit has an executive council comprised of representatives from the Brazilian government, civil society associations and local administration, among other stakeholders.

The communities were trained on agricultural and extractive techniques to ensure the preservation of natural resources. Additionally, they learned how to prevent and extinguish forest fires. Such strategies improved livelihoods, and helped preserve cultures which may otherwise have been lost. “These benefits not only affect Brazilians, but also have a lasting impact across the globe,” Moreira adds.

Open Quotes

This program is a collective construction with ideas that were considered overly ambitious in the beginning. They can now be reproduced in similar programs around the world. Close Quotes

Adriana Moreira
Senior Environmental Specialist at the World Bank

Financial sustainability

Last May, ARPA started its second phase (running from 2012 to the end of 2015, with a budget of US$ 85.8 million) as the World Bank, the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment, the WWF and the German Development Bank (KfW) publicly announced the Protected Areas Fund (FAP), a mechanism to enhance the financial sustainability of the project.

US$ 56.5 million (BRL 115 million) was initially invested, and the current phase of the program aims at further capitalizing FAP with a 150% increase on the actual level of funds. Only the interest will be transferred to the conservation units, two of which will immediately benefit from the revenue: Cantão State Park (in the state of Tocantins) and Jaru Biological Reserve (in Rondônia).

In the first phase, the program implemented a tool called “conta vinculada” (conjoined account) that gives protected areas’ site managers small amounts of cash.  “The resources help them do small things which have a great impact, such as buying gasoline for enforcement work without having to wait for the government to give them the fuel,” says Adriana Moreira.

“This program is a collective construction with ideas that were considered overly ambitious in the beginning. They can now be reproduced in similar programs around the world,” she adds.

Going forward

Besides capitalizing and strengthening the Protected Areas Fund, the program’s second phase aims to create an additional 13.5 million hectares of protected areas in the Brazilian Amazon and to consolidate a further 32 million hectares. The third phase is scheduled for 2016-2018.

Upon completion, the Amazon Protected Areas Program (ARPA) will cover nearly 70 million hectares of rainforest.

The success of ARPA has also spurred on the development of a new World Bank project focusing on expanding and better managing protected areas along Brazil’s coastline and marine habitats. This includes increasing the amount of marine territory under protection from less than 2% to 5%.