'Value Chains' Project Promotes Strategic Planning

The objective it to strengthen the leadership role of four organizations operating at Verde para Sempre

June, 2022 - The Committee for Sustainable Development (CDS) and three other cooperatives in the municipality of Porto de Moz, in the state of Pará, are  preparing their medium and long-term strategic plans under the “Sustainable Value Chain and Territorial and Environmental Management of Protected Areas in the Amazon" project, which is supported by USAID/Brazil.

The goal is to strengthen the leadership of institutions working at the Verde para Sempre sustainable use conservation unit, the largest extractive reserve in Brazil. Verde para Sempre was created in 2004 and covers 1.2 million hectares in the Amazon rainforest. 

The Value Chains project supports a collective process and provides institutions the opportunity to plan and develop their organizational structure. It  assists in developing and improving their sustainable production chains, including sustainable forestry.

“The project promotes organizational strengthening so that these entities may take a leading role in all stages of timber management. The Verde para Sempre region is under a lot of pressure due to its biodiversity wealth. Some timber companies operating in the region promise to do all the work and to reward the community, but they end up keeping most of the profit. We fight to ensure that local associations may accumulate knowledge in all activities along the chain, and to empower local residents. This generates income and strengthens their organization processes,” explains Alisson Castilho, coordinator of the Territorialities, Forests, and Communities program at the Brazilian Education Institute (IEB). The Value Chains project is part of this program.

Supported by the Partnership for the Conservation of Amazon Biodiversity (PCAB), the project aims to conserve biodiversity in protected areas and promote the well-being and autonomy of Indigenous and traditional communities. It is implemented by the IEB with technical support from the US Forest Service and other partners, including the Brazilian federal government through the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio).

Castilho says that, between 2020 and 2021, Verde para Sempre reserve faced difficulties following the closure of extractive reserves. As activities resumed this year, IEB staff reconfigured  the organizations engaged in sustainable forest management.

Empowering communities to manage the forest through local organizations is an effective strategy to fight deforestation in the Amazon and directly encourages legal logging. Several criteria must be met for any logging activity to be considered legal. This aims to guarantee the conservation and reproduction of forest biodiversity. 

Projects that started in the 1970’s in other countries (Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Mexico) were successful in implementing similar strategies. Verde para Sempre has a strategic role, as it currently accounts for 60 percent of all forest management plans approved for the Amazon. 

In addition to the CDS, other organizations are developing their plans, such as the Médio Rio Jaurucu Agroextractive Producers Cooperative (COOPAMJ), the Nossa Senhora do Perpétuo Socorro do Rio Arimum Mixed Agroextractive Cooperative (COOMNSPRA), and the Floresta Sempre Viva Três Rios Mixed Agroextractive Cooperative (COMAR).

Value Chains — Sustainable forest management is gaining prominence as a socioeconomic alternative for the development and protection of community territories in extractive reserves. It reduces their dependence on low-value-added primary products and on intermediaries. Improving management and governance in these territories is a  key to the solution. 

Value chains require technical support and specialist advice for management efforts, all stages require permissions and constant monitoring, as well as inspections by ICMBio. There are licensing requirements in place, including forest inventories (where logging areas are delimited, and all tree species are identified).

After inventory is completed, an annual percentage for authorized extraction is determined. The exploitation license takes into account forest resilience and its ability to regenerate over the years. At Verde para Sempre, there are four exploitation plans in force, including one run by COOMNSPRA, which has been operating since 2007. 

Municipal managers from COOMNSPRA obtained credit from a bank to finance their production. As a result, they no longer relied on intermediaries and had greater autonomy managing their sustainable forest management plan (read more about it here).

“This is a long-term chain, with licenses running for up to 40 years. In view of this long-term approach, the process of strengthening organizations has to be continuous, including to enable the emergence of new leadership. Without this continuity, there is a risk of wasting years of effort,” adds Castilho.

More information on the IEB website.