Piranha Reserve for Sustainable Development

by Mariano Colini Cenamo ,Secretário Executivo, Instituto de Conservação e Desenvolvimento Sustentável do Amazonas - IDESAM

The creation and management of Protected Areas (PAs) represent one of the main strategies used to protect biodiversity and the conservation of natural resources in Brazil. Amazonas State currently possesses a mosaic of PAs composed of 31 State, 33 Federal and 25 Municipal PAs. Among the State PAs, 19 were just created in the last 3 years (SDS, 2005). Most still don’t have an effective administration that guarantees consolidation and maintenance. The construction of a detailed and participative approach to planning is indispensable – one that addresses the administration and management of the PAs in ways that assist its conservation objectives, but also that considers compensation measures for the social and economic impact suffered by the communities in the areas used for creation of PAs.

The Piranha Reserve for Sustainable Development (RSD) was created by the Manacapuru Municipality City Hall on 4 July 1997, seeking to assure the conservation of an area with extreme biodiversity, and to support the local communities’ efforts to oppose the slaughter of birds and predatory fishing by outside visitors, which was harming their subsistence activities. The area is located between the Solimões River’s right margin and Manacapuru River’s left margin and has an area of almost 120,000 hectares consisting of mainly the meadow (flooded) ecosystem, where about 64 families live distributed between two communities. It comprises a compound of approximately 180 lakes and it is a migratory route for at least 10 species of birds, originating from Central and South America.

However, about 40 communities live in the borderlands of the Reserve, with strong traditions of agricultural exploitation. The great majority exploit the resources inside the reserve as irregular subsistence activity, causing some conflict with the residents inside the PA. The sum of all these factors means that the reserve requires intense and coordinated action by Government, NGOs and resident community associations.

Despite the fact that the RSD was created almost ten years ago, it still doesn’t have a Management Plan . Through an agreement among the Municipal City Hall and the State Government, this plan is being elaborated by the State Secretary for Environment and Sustainable Development (SDS-AM).

On the other hand, in the years since its foundation, through partnerships and coordinated action by institutions, several activities to improve the quality of life and the conservation of natural resources in the Reservation have been implemented.

In education, although modest, the numbers express a good structure for teaching, when compared to other isolated community PAs in Amazonas: there are two schools for basic teaching, which employ four teachers and run school river transport for the students. There are two health centers (one for each community), each operated by one community health agent, and 3 speedboats (SOS Health) for use among the communities. The communities’ average income is of R$ 3,840 per family/year, with an average of 6 people per family.

Among the activities initiated for sustainable development in the RSD, the following should be highlighted:

Pirarucu Fish Farming Project: The fish farming project for breeding Pirarucu in Net-Tanks (pictures 1 and 2), aims to reduce the environmental impact of predatory fishing in the reserve and to increase family incomes through fish production. Nowadays it assists 40 families, where each family received 10 tanks and other equipment, technical consultancy services, and working capital totalling R$ 18,000 per family.

Alligator Management: The project for management and commercialization of Alligator in Piranha RSD is being developed by the Forests Agency of Amazonas (AFLORAM), with the objective of sustainable use of the great number of alligators that inhabit the area. Following the approved and consolidated model in use at RSD Mamirauá, where the alligator populations have been maintained in natural balance, the activity promises to be a new source for income generation for the Piranha Reserve.

PRO-CHUVA Pilot Program: Program implemented by the Secretary for Environment and Sustainable Development of Amazonas (SDS-AM), for reception and storage of rainwater in residences in the communities of Piranha RSD. With the program it was possible to substitute bad quality water directly from the rivers usually consumed by the communities.

Ecotourism Project: There is a "Floating Jungle Hotel" inside the RSD, where part of the income generated is directly destined for the communities, besides bringing other indirect benefits as employment (as guides, cooks, etc), and the purchase of local products, such as fish, honey, flour among others.

Management Plan: The Management Plan for RSD Piranha and borders/influence area is being elaborated, aiming to address social support programs, intensify fiscalization and regularize subsistence activities developed by the communities

Research and Partnerships: Through partnerships with School and Research Institutions, projects are being developed to enhance knowledge and management of natural resources, bringing several direct and indirect benefits for RSD.