Management Plans: Projects Range from Vegetable Gardens to Leather Handicrafts

PGTAs encourage sustainable practices in Indigenous communities in Roraima

February, 2023 – Eight Territorial and Environmental Management Plans (PGTAs) were implemented under the Bem Viver project, which focuses on the well-being of Indigenous peoples in the state of Roraima. The goals included respecting ancestry, preserving traditional rites, relaying ancient knowledge to younger generations, and promoting sustainable income generation to keep the forest standing. 

Three other plans are currently being developed to benefit Macuxi, Wapichana, Taurepang, Ingarikó, and Patamona communities living in the Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Land. 

The Bem Viver project is run by the Roraima Indigenous Council (CIR) together with Brazil's International Education Institute (IEB) and Nature and Culture International (NCI), and supported by USAID/Brazil. It aims to support the implementation of the National Policy for Land and Environmental Management of Indigenous Lands (PNGATI).

“Management plans promote discussions on health, education, traditional knowledge, and community organizing. Participants identify their sacred spots, the center of their communities, what they want to plant, and how they can generate income,” explains environmental manager Sinéia do Vale Wapichana, coordinator of CIR's Territorial and Environmental Management Department. 

Born in the Serra da Lua region, Sinéia is a climate authority at the Brazilian Amazon Indigenous Organization Network (COIAB). She is a leader who ensures that Indigenous communities in Roraima have a voice and are able to set their own priorities for land management.

According to Sinéia, the Bem Viver project addressed  Indigenous groups specific demands. “For us, it was very rewarding to be able to implement these plans, which gave our communities what they wanted to improve their quality of life.”

Activities include support for the production of cassava flour, setting up community gardens, fish farming, in addition to handicrafts made from leather and other materials. Alongside the implementation of the PGTAs, sustainable livestock is one of Bem Viver's four areas of work.

“We have 36 Indigenous lands, which cover a total of 10 million hectares of forest. The work carried out through the Territorial and Environmental Management Plans helps us show the Brazilian State that we are able to produce, both in agriculture and livestock, and also show the world that we do not need to poison our land to produce food," said CIR general coordinator Edinho Batista, who is a member of the Macuxi people and lives at the Maturuca community.

He explains that these partnerships with the IEB and USAID strengthen the sustainability of Indigenous communities in several areas. “This is one of the milestones that strengthens our economy and, at the same time, promotes the autonomy of our communities, with strong determination in the legal, political, and economic areas,” he adds. 

In Roraima, 11% of the population self-declared as Indigenous, according to data from the 2010 Census published by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics—IBGE (the latest one available—an update should be released later this year). Thus, Roraima is the Brazilian state with the highest percentage of Indigenous people.

Continual training—The Bem Viver project has two other lines of work: training local agents to work both on environmental conservation and territorial protection; and promoting CIR's institutional success, as one of the largest and most consolidated Indigenous organizations in Brazil.

In January, CIR brought together 2,000 people, including leaders, Indigenous peoples from other ethnic groups and representatives of partner organizations, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their first assembly, which led to the creation of the council (read more here). 

Currently, CIR has five community fire brigades, with 65 trained firefighters. They work in the regions of Serra da Lua, Surumu, Tabaio, Wai-Wai, and Murupu. CIR delivered training to over 300 Indigenous people as Territorial and Environmental Agents (ATAIs) to work in various communities, and trained members of the Indigenous Territorial Protection and Surveillance Group (GPVIT). Others were trained on  project development and on communications. These groups include Indigenous women.

“Women play a key role. They should feel empowered to say what they can and what they want to do. We are here to help in this process,” says CIR secretary general Maria Betânia Mota de Jesus, from the Macuxi people. 

For Catherine Hamlin, Director of USAID/Brazil's Environment Program, one of the most effective ways to advance opportunities and the economic development of Indigenous communities is to work through with leadership and representative institutions. “By working with CIR and its regional communities, we can support both the implementation of environmental and territorial management in the state of Roraima, as well as other activities, including sustainable production.” 

Cloude Correia, one of the Coordinators for the IEB Indigenous Peoples Program, stresses the importance of engaging Indigenous people in the project. “The communities participate in the whole process and help with the planning. Their involvement in management is fundamental.”

Find out more about Bem Viver here.