The Juma Sustainable Development Reserve (RDS), in the northern state of Amazonas, is regarded as a model both in the country and across the world. In addition to bringing the deforestation rate down to zero, the project being implemented in the area has enabled the local population to generate income and protect the forest.
Known for its successful efforts against the current growth of deforestation, the nearly 590,000-hectare large reserve in the Amazon forest has seen a considerable reduction in degradation rates. The latest official figures come from 2015 and show that no new deforestation actions took place. The reduction is said to owe to the first Redd (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) project implemented in the area, in 2008. In the same year, the initiative, organized by NGO Sustainable Amazonas Foundation (FAS), was the first in the country and in the American continent to receive an international certificate for prevented deforestation.
On Amazon Day, September 5, Victor Salviati, coordinator of the Innovative Solutions program at FAS, talked about the reserve. “We’ve conducted a number of studies. We saw that, if nothing was to be done from 2008 to 2050—the scenario we work with—nearly 66% of the area would be deforested and approximately 189 million tons of carbon would be emitted.” He explains that, in order to fight deforestation forces, work was done on three fronts—the first as investment in income generation, community programs, and employment; the second as investment in training and formal education; and the third as scientific development and monitoring efforts.
Under Redd, both domestic and international companies offer their support to measures aimed at cutting deforestation rates and carbon emissions at the Juma Reserve, which operates as a financial tool for the generation of carbon credits. Today, the project benefits 476 families—some 2 thousand people—split into 38 communities in far-off regions. According to Victor Salviati, they get support for the production of flour, açaí, nut, and artisanal fishing, in addition to payment for environmental services under the Bolsa Floresta program.
Redd agents in the Juma Reserve expect to prevent the emission of some 190 million tons of carbon dioxide and the deforestation of 366 thousand hectares by 2050. By 2015, around 6 million tons of greenhouse gases were prevented from being emitted into the atmosphere by the efforts under the initiative.
Guardians of the forest
“In addition to the structuring investments, there’s the investment in people. The foundation firmly believes that forest conservation is connected to the people—they’re the guardians of the forest. If we give these people the opportunity to dream, by providing them with quality education, productive infrastructure, training, communication, and transport, they can live better. And if you live better, you manage natural resources better,” Salviati argues.
The Juma Reserve was created in 2006 by the Amazonas state government and is run by the State Secretariat for Environment. It is located in an area classified as high-risk for deforestation—the municipality of Novo Aripuanã, 227 km away from Manaus.
“The benefits of biodiversity of the conversation unit are seen to have become empowered—that’s why they’re always on the watch. Whenever something threatens what they care for with so much zeal, they notify the environmental agency for law enforcement. This makes us happy with the results reached so far,” says Antônio Stroski, secretary for environment.
Rosângela dos Santos Ribeiro, 47, lives in the area and speaks for the São Félix community. She is married, the mother of eight children, and works in the flour production chain. Dona Rosa, as she is called, is proud to live in the reserve and to contribute to the preservation of the forest.
“Here in our reserve, this project is really important, especially because it has financially helped a lot of people take care of the place they live in. A number of projects were also devised for young people as well. This belongs to us. We have to take care of it. I feel good living in my community,” she stressed.
Translated by Fabrício Ferreira