The survival of the Amazon is inextricably linked to its inhabitants, who have always been its guardians. We defend our forest by controlling commercial fishing, illegal hunting, fires and timber exploitation.

In the Amazon the invasion of the forest always begins with the opening up of a road. The logging of valuable species of wood is the first link in the chain of devastation, followed by the use of fire to prepare the land for agriculture or livestock raising. The region of the Rio Jauaperi is one of the few remaining areas of intact tropical forest in the Amazon and it is at risk of opening of roads, logging concessions, human settlements and the expansion of intensive agriculture and livestock raising. All this would lead to illegal destruction and the spread of uncontrolled human occupation. Lacking an economic alternative the traditional people of the region could be forced to hunt illegally and practice intensive and illegal commercial fishing.
While only the local people can ensure the protection of the forest, the support of government agencies would underpin a permanent solution to the threats that the Amazon faces.
We actively work with public bodies to conserve the area of the Jauaperi region. For example, local people have trained as volunteer environment agents for IBAMA, the Brazilian environmental enforcement agency. This role carries real risks, as it confers no powers except to monitor and report on illegal activity, putting the volunteers in the path of powerful vested interests, far from the reach of formal law enforcement. Jauaperi's volunteers have received death threats, particularly from illegal fishing fleets, and a volunteer from Itaquera had his house burnt to the ground in an arson attack.
Since 2001 the project has been working with the Brazilian Ministry of Environment to incorporate the Xixuaú region within a much larger protected area, which would be legally designated as an Extractivist Reserve. The protected area, called RESEX Jauaperi, was succesfully created in 2018, read here the superb news!
One of the most immediate threats to the wildlife and people of the Jauaperi is from illegal fishing. This brings the local ribeirinho people directly into conflict with major commercial interests from cities as far away as Manaus. In the low water season the fish that had been hidden amongst the flooded forest are concentrated in narrow river channels, easy prey for commercial fleets. These scrape the rivers clean using trawler nets, storing valuable fish on ice in the hold, while throwing the unwanted catch back into the rivers. Entire populations of migratory fish can be captured before they reach their spawning grounds.
We  worked with Brazilian partners to ensure that a moratorium was placed on commercial fishing during 2006 to 2009. However, the moratorium expired in 2009 and early in 2010 the fishing fleets returned. Currently we are working to renew the moratorium.
A crucial partner in the campaigns for an Extractive Reserve and against illegal fishing is the Rio Negro Network, a forum that articulates ONGs which work on socio-environmental issues and is formed by local organizations such as Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), Fundação Vitória Amazônica (FVA), Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (IPÊ) and WWF-Brasil.
Edited by Emanuela Evangelista

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