Mamirauá: Conservation, Sustainable Development and Research (Jannas Blog)
Mamirauá was the first Sustainable Development Reserve in Brazil and serves until today as model for other areas in Brazil as well as abroad. Instead of expelling the 12 000 people living in the reserve, as is normally done in natural reserves, where no people are allowed to live, the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Institute was created, seeking to combine conservation and research about the biodiversity-rich site, develop ecotourism and sustainable development in a participative way together with the local communities.
The area of 1,124 mio hectars hosts a biodiversity hotspot of floodplain forest, which is the only place in the world where the Uakari monkey and the black-headed squirrel monkey live, the place with the highest density of jaguars and home to other endangered species such as the manatee and the pink river dolphin. The Pirarucu, the biggest fresh water fish in the world, was due to it´s popularity and commercial value on the brink of extinction when the reserve was created and has now become abundant again thanks to a sophisticated fishing management plan. Commercial fisher boats from outside are not allowed in anymore and detailed zoning and timing regulates the local fishing activities. Direct marketing of the fish in Manaus circumvents middlemen and brings reliable high prices to the local communities. At the same time, the system allows for control of the amounts and kinds of fish extracted. A similar system is applied to sustainable small-scale logging. Had the reserve not been created and the Pirarucu been extinct, it´s likely that the unsustainable logging habits which had taken roots before would have accelerated. Scrupulous timber traders had made local people dependent on them by swapping staple food against the logs at exchange rates which threw the local people into constant debts. “Using the forest so that it lasts forever” is the new slogan.