Strengthening biodiversity conservation in the Amazon: Juruá Middle Territory Program begins a new phase

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Just before 5:00 am, Dione Araújo de Medeiros, a mother of four, is already up and helping other women in the Xibauazinho community. They work in the logistics of pirarucu fishing and also in cleaning the fish before it is sent to the warehouse, receiving paid payment for the tasks. They are part of the project for the sustainable management of fish in the Middle Juruá.

Meanwhile, in Manariã, a community about three and a half hours by boat from Xibauazinho, Francisco da Silva, known in the region as “seo Bomba”, has already crossed by “rabeta” (a wooden canoe with a gas-powered engine) to the other side of the river bank. He went to the beach, where he takes care of the turtles spawning sites, as part of the monitoring program for the conservation of turtles, tracajás and yaçás. 

A little further away, in the São Raimundo community, the young Maria Cunha Figueiredo feeds her daughter before heading to the telehealth post. There, he acts as a health agent, providing advice to local residents, an activity that combines with that of a volunteer environmental agent and youth leadership. 

Ribeirinhos such as Dione, “seo” Bomba and Maria live in communities in the Middle Juruá region served in the second phase of the Middle Juruá Territory Program (PTMJ). The program aims to contribute to the sustainable development of the territory, which is of extreme ecological importance due to its continuous area of preserved tropical forest, offering sustainable livelihoods, well-being to traditional populations and conserving biodiversity. 

Management of Pirarucu carried out by riverside dwellers in the lake, Marari Grande from the Xibauazinho community in the RDS Uacari, Medio Jurua region in Carauari, Amazonas, Brazil. September 2021. Photo: Bruno Kelly.

The territory covers an area of 1.2 million hectares, with two Conservation Units – the Médio Juruá Extractive Reserve (Resex) and the Uacari Sustainable Development Reserve (RDS) – and part of the Deni Indigenous Land of the Xeruã River, covering one large rural area in the municipality of Carauari (AM).

In addition to the support of USAID/Brazil and Natura, in this second stage the PTMJ will have the Partners for the Amazon Platform (PPA) as a strategic partner and the participation of the Bioversity/CIAT Alliance. Coordination remains with SITAWI. Six local community organizations (ASPROC, ASMAMJ, AMECSARA, AMARU, CODAEMJ and ASPODEX) are among the implementers of the actions. It will also feature ICMBio, the State Secretariat for the Environment (SEMA) and OPAN.

The program is structured around three integrated pillars: sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity conservation and social cohesion. The actions are focused on supporting the strengthening of product chains in the Middle Juruá, fostering local entrepreneurship, in addition to the sustainable use and management of natural resources. Thus, it seeks to ensure the improvement in the management of extractive-based businesses, the quality of life of the population and the conservation of biodiversity in the Amazon. 

With a target audience of around 4,500 residents of 61 riverside communities, in addition to five indigenous villages along this stretch of the Juruá River, the PTMJ involves a broad base of local actors and external partners to, in a participatory and collaborative way, develop and implement the projects. Among them are, for example, support for the management of wild pirarucu and other fish, such as tambaqui; the monitoring of turtle conservation trays; support for environmental education programs and local organizational strengthening. 

In the first phase, between 2017 and early 2021, the program mobilized R$ 16.8 million, serving more than 3,500 residents with socioeconomic improvements and contributing to the improvement of the organizational management of four local associations. 

It helped to conserve more than 919,000 hectares, improving the territorial management of protected areas and surrounding communities, showing that it is possible to generate a positive social and environmental impact, involving communities, associations, NGOs, public authorities and companies (access the final report in Portuguese on here).

“The first phase of the PTMJ came to help us overcome several obstacles. We hope that now this other project can consolidate the chain as a whole so that it becomes increasingly sustainable because we know of its importance here in the region”, says Manuel Siqueira, president of the Association of Rural Producers of Carauari (ASPROC). 

Expectations for the new cycle 

“In the first phase, the program gave opportunities to several young people, opening the doors to projects in their communities. Now we hope that the youth will be seen as a partner in the conservation of biodiversity and the strengthening of organizations”, says Maria Cunha when asked about what she expects from the PTMJ. 

The president of the Association of Agroextractive Women of the Middle Juruá (ASMAMJ), Quilvilene Figueiredo da Cunha, says that the second phase of the program comes to further strengthen community initiatives. “We want to strengthen entrepreneurship initiatives that help empower women. We learned that when training is offered to women to learn something new, they are empowering themselves”, she says.

The president of the Association of Extractive Residents of the Uacari Reserve (AMARU), Franciney de Souza, highlights the importance of the activity of collecting seeds, such as andiroba and murumuru, and processing for the extraction of oils. “This chain has great potential for residents here. It's another income that comes to the communities without degrading nature”, he says.

For Manuel Cunha, manager of the Médio Juruá Extractive Reserve (RESEX) and a resident of the São Raimundo community, the expectation is to continue the work already carried out, with an emphasis on community organization. “She is the base. If the community organization is not strengthened, the other things are house on sand: a gale can collapse”, he compares. 

With a strong history of social organization, the communities of Médio Juruá develop, through local associations and cooperatives, actions in value chains and in biodiversity conservation projects. They receive support from USAID, government institutions and companies such as Natura. 

Even with the success of management and conservation initiatives for natural resources, there is still room for improvement. It is in this sense that the second phase of the PTMJ intends to emphasize, supporting the strengthening of product chains in the Middle Juruá, fostering local entrepreneurship – with an emphasis on women – and increasing actions of sustainable management and territorial protection. 

Learn more about the PTMJ by watching the video below and reading the final report of the first phase of the program at info.sitawi.net/relatorio-final-ptmj

Text: Luciana Constantino.