Strengthening biodiversity conservation in the Amazon: Médio Juruá Territory Program Phase 2

Just before 5 a.m., Dione Araújo de Medeiros, a mother of four, is already up and running, helping other women in the Xibauazinho community. Together, they provide logistical support to pirarucu fishermen, and clean the fish before they are sent to the warehouse — and are paid for it, under the pirarucu sustainable management project in the Médio Juruá.

In Manariã, a community about three and a half hours by boat from Xibauazinho, Francisco da Silva, known locally as “seo" Bomba, has already crossed the river on a “rabeta” (a wooden canoe with a gas-powered engine). He is responsible for controlling turtle spawning grounds on the opposite shore, as part of a monitoring program for the conservation of turtles, tracajás and yaçás.

A little further away, at the São Raimundo community, young Maria de Nazaré Cunha Figueiredo feeds her daughter before heading off to the tele-healthcare unit. As a healthcare worker, she provides advice to local residents online. In her spare time she volunteers as an environmental agent, and a young local leader.

People like Dione, “seo” Bomba and Maria live in Médio Juruá and have been included in Phase 2 of the Médio Juruá Territory Program (PTMJ). The program aims to contribute to the sustainable development of the territory, which is of extreme ecological importance due to its continuous area of preserved tropical forest, offering sustainable livelihoods to traditional populations, and conserving biodiversity.

The Médio Juruá covers a large rural area in the municipality of Carauari (AM), totaling 1.2 million hectares. It includes two protected areas: the Médio Juruá Extractive Reserve, and the Uacari Sustainable Development Reserve, plus part of the Deni Indigenous Land on the Xeruã River.

In addition to continued support from USAID/Brazil and Natura, the PTMJ will now have the Partnership Platform for the Amazon (PPA) as a strategic partner; and the Alliance of Bioversity International (CIAT) will also participate. SITAWI remains in charge of coordinating the project, and six local community organizations (ASPROC, ASMAMJ, AMECSARA, AMARU, CODAEMJ, and ASPODEX) will act as implementing partners. It will also involve ICMBio, the State Secretariat for the Environment (SEMA), and OPAN.

In order to promote more initiatives for local sustainable development, the PTMJ will remain open to new supporters committed to actions that may bring positive socio environmental impacts for the region.

 Lines of action

The PTMJ is structured around three integrated pillars: sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity conservation, and social cohesion. Its actions are focused on supporting and strengthening product chains in the Médio Juruá, fostering local entrepreneurship, and promoting the sustainable use and management of natural resources. It seeks to ensure the improved management of extractive-based businesses, a better quality of life for the local population, and the conservation of biodiversity in the Amazon.

With a target audience of around 4,500 people living in 61 riverine communities and five indigenous villages along this stretch of the Juruá River, the PTMJ involves a broad base of local actors and external partners to develop and implement projects in a participatory and collaborative way. These projects include, for example, supporting the management of wild pirarucu and other fish, such as tambaqui; monitoring turtle conservation sites; supporting environmental education programs; and strengthening local organizations.

In its Phase 1, between 2017 and early 2021, the PTMJ mobilized R$16.8 million, providing socioeconomic improvements to more than 3,500 residents, and contributing to the organizational management of four local associations.

It helped to conserve more than 919 thousand hectares, improving the territorial management of protected areas and surrounding communities, demonstrating  it is possible to generate a positive socio environmental impact, involving communities, associations, NGOs, government authorities, and companies.

“PTMJ Phase 1 helped us overcome several obstacles. We hope that this new project can build on the chain as a whole, so that it becomes increasingly sustainable. We know how important it is for the whole region,” says Manuel Siqueira, president of the Carauari Rural Producers Association (ASPROC).

 Expectations for the new cycle

“During Phase 1, the program offered new opportunities to several young people, opening the doors of their communities to a number of projects. Now we hope that these youth will be seen as partners for conserving biodiversity and strengthening their organizations,” said Maria Cunha, when asked about what she expects from the PTMJ.

Quilvilene Figueiredo da Cunha, president of the Médio Juruá Association of Agroextractive Women (ASMAMJ), says that Phase 2 will further strengthen community initiatives. “We want to strengthen entrepreneurship initiatives that help empower women. We have learned that when women are given a chance to learn something new, they feel empowered,” she says.

The president of the Uacari Agroextractive Association (AMARU), Franciney de Souza, highlights the importance of collecting seeds, such as andiroba and murumuru, and processing them to extract oils. “This chain offers great potential to the local community. It provides additional income without degrading nature,” he says.

Manuel Cunha, manager of the Médio Juruá Extractive Reserve and a resident of the São Raimundo community, expects to continue the work they started, but with an emphasis on community organization. “That is the basis. If we lack strong community organization, everything else becomes a house of cards: the slightest breeze could bring us down,” he says.

With a strong history of community organizing, the Médio Juruá communities have been developing, through local associations and cooperatives, actions in value chains and in biodiversity conservation projects. They receive support from USAID, government institutions, and companies such as Natura.

Despite the success of these management and conservation initiatives, there is still room for improvement. That is what PTMJ Phase 2 intends to stress, strengthening product chains in the Médio Juruá region, fostering local entrepreneurship — with an emphasis on women — and increasing sustainable management and territorial protection actions. 

Learn more about the PTMJ and watch the video