Information, Awareness, Engagement: MPB Supports Biodiversity Conservation

Participatory Monitoring Project is closing its Knowledge Gatherings

May, 2022 - Knowledge Gatherings provide communities in the Amazon with information on local biodiversity. They raise awareness about environmental conservation, incorporate traditional knowledge, and encourage participants in the process. This constructive learning cycle defines some of the lessons learned and gathers new general insights.

The Knowledge Gatherings resumed this year, after the COVID-19 pandemic, in the final stage of the Participatory Biodiversity Monitoring Project (MPB). The project is part of Monitora — Brazil's National Biodiversity Monitoring Program.

In addition to facilitating experience and knowledge sharing among local residents and researchers, the Knowledge Gatherings present an opportunity to discuss new needs and the results of monitoring activities.

Eighteen protected areas are monitored by the Ecological Research Institute (IPÊ) and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), under the Partnership for the Conservation of Amazon Biodiversity (PCAB) supported by USAID/Brazil and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

“This event has a very important meaning for our community. Participatory monitoring empowers extractive groups and helps us to better understand biodiversity conservation. The idea of joining local residents' traditional knowledge with researchers' technical knowledge is a key aspect of this empowerment. After all, preserving the forest and, consequently, our way of life depends on this understanding of the importance of sustainability,” says community leader Aldeci Cerqueira Maia, known as Nenzinho, from the Cazumbá-Iracema Extractive Reserve, in the state of Acre.

On April 29-30, Cazumbá-Iracema was the seventh conservation unit in the Amazon to host the 2022 season of gatherings, bringing together about 60 participants. 

“The Cazumbá-Iracema Extractive Reserve has a history of organization and engagement with the MPB project, which has existed for eight years. Our perception is that the community has taken ownership of the monitoring project in the best possible way. It is at this time of knowledge exchange, when everyone gathers to discuss the results, that we realize how important these spaces for dialogue and active listening are for the strengthening of local arrangements and forest conservation,” points out Débora Lehmann, technical coordinator of the MPB project. 

Located on the banks of the Caeté River, with an area of more than 750,000 hectares, the Cazumbá-Iracema Extractive Reserve is a model for the local governance of conservation units. In 2014 it started monitoring Brazil nuts in partnership with the MPB. Eventually, new targets were introduced, such as mammals, birds, butterflies, and plants.

Local IPÊ researcher Ilnaiara Sousa illustrates the information collected through the project was essential to understanding the dynamics of the Brazil nut production chain in the reserve. "This result was only possible thanks to the effective participation of the whole community. We have this sense of mission accomplished, in addition to the certainty that participatory monitoring must go on,” she adds. 

Biodiversity monitoring comprises a set of long-term activities that enable us to assess the responses of populations and ecosystems to conservation practices, including the impacts of external factors, such as landscape changes and climate change. These actions help to devise strategies to mitigate pressures on ecosystems.

Knowledge Exchange — Since the beginning of the MPB project, IPÊ hosted 14 face-to-face Knowledge Gatherings, and two seminars together with their partners, local leaders, ICMBio managers, monitors, and researchers from different institutions. This year, there will be 10 meetings, concluding in June. 

Before the Cazumbá-Iracema Extractive Reserve, a Knowledge Gathering at the Itatupã-Baquiá Sustainable Development Reserve in the state of Pará, brought together about 70 community members on April 8. 

According to local monitor Manoel Chaves, known as Seu Codó, this activity helps to strengthen community organization (more details here).

“Following up on monitoring results is important for the entire community: first, because it supplies us with information about our biodiversity; second, because it strengthens our awareness of nature conservation; and third, it helps to strengthen our community, encouraging everyone to engage in this dialogue,” he concludes. 

More information at IPÊ website