Increased protection of the Amazon

The Mosaic work – which covers the huge mosaic of protected areas and the environmental work in the Mosaic municipalities of Calha Norte / Karib – has gotten off to a promising start. In the protection of the three large Pará state conservation units much has already happened.

Regnskogsföreningen funds the NGO Imazon, which has executed the work using its networks with local governments and other parties, with oversight by our main cooperation partner Ecam. Regnskogsföreningen‘s project coordinator Ulf met with them during his recent project visit, and here summarises his impressions.

The meetings of the management council of the Paru reserve and of the management councils of the Trombetas and Faro reserves were held in a positive spirit of cooperation. Decisions were made to construct bases of integrated management at the boundary of the Faro reserve and of the Trombetas reserve, which are subject to incursions by fishermen and Brazil nut gatherers respectively. Construction has already started of one of the bases. It is planned to have military police of the regional capital man the bases, with their daily salaries taken care of by request from the state government conservation authority.

Parts of Serra Azul is subject to logging, agriculture and cattle ranching deforestation. Local park guards will be trained there. There is concern about the risks of other actors advancing on the roads built by a company which makes a base all the more important.

The biggest challenge is further east, in the section southward of Paru reserve. That poses the by far biggest current threat in the entire Karib corridor, with two roads entering Paru in this section. In the eastern area there is significant deforestation probably mainly for cattle ranching of some hundreds of hectares per year. Whereas sustainable uses of land in Paru, Trombetas and Faro such as low-impact logging may be permitted subject to rigorous standards, deforestation is clearly not permitted and all is illegal. The primary motive of the invaders is unclear. Maybe it has as much to do with hopes of land value appreciation as with income from cattle ranching.

At the council meeting for Paru it was decided to form a working group on the issue of the invasions. Revision of the outdated management plans from 2010 is planned. From now on there will also be three annual meetings of each of the management councils of the three conservation units. None of the councils had met since 2017, because the state government did not have funds to pay for the travel costs. The management councils are comprised of equal numbers of persons from the state and local governments on the one hand, and NGO:s and civil society on the other hand.

It is a humbling and surprising fact that it is the relatively limited funds from Regnskogsföreningen that enabled the meetings to be held for these reserves totaling over 7.1 million hectares of rain forests (including 2.2 million hectares overlapping with the declared Kaxuyana – Tunayana indigenous reserve).

Behind the positive spirit of the meetings is a change of opinion in the state government of Pará. The new governor there had entered with a stated intention to reduce the areas of the state conservation units which in particular means Paru, Trombetas and Faro. As a reaction to the policies of the new federal administration of Brazil and the cancellation of the Norway-funded Amazon Fund, there has been interest from the governments of Germany and Norway for a possible financing of a new “Eastern Amazon Fund”. The governor travelled to those countries, and realizing the funding opportunities, the state has developed a different opinion. I have also heard the change being a felt need to balance the policies and rhetoric of the new president.

Another crucial aspect is the positive spirit from the major part of the involved municipalities, which participate in the management councils of those reserves in which a part of the respective municipality is located. The state has limited funds, and it is the municipalities that have to pay the costs of constructing the bases. One reason for financing this is that there are instances of criminal persons entering the reserves, and the municipality wants some order. It also wants regulation on an issue like the collection of Brazil nuts.

Work will shortly start for two other project components. All involved municipalities have shown interest in the creation of a Forum of the nine municipal environmental secretariats of Calha Norte. It is expected that the identified 18 environmental transgressions will be updated and, hopefully, many of them be addressed. Although there is differing capacities of contribution between the municipalities, all appear to be willing to participate and several of the heads of the secretariats are quite dedicated. Likewise there is enthusiasm for the training of the councils of the seven most important municipal environmental secretariats in Calha Norte/Karib.

Indirectly protection of many millions of hectares of indigenous, Quilombola and other conservation areas will be aided with the protection of Paru, Trombetas and Faro. The latter are pretty much are on the front line of the relatively slowly, but steadily, advancing cattle ranching and agricultural frontier to the south.

The visit was very valuable and results this far show a great potential for increased protection of the rainforest.