Concepts extracted from the interviews
The project from which this article is derived borns from the union of ecological willfulness with the opportunity to create an audiovisual document giving voice to local actors and disclosing the local Amazon reality to the rest of the globe. Guided by the nonagenarian journalist Manuel A. Marquez, first president and still coordinator from Europe of the Instituto Integracionista Amazónico Trifronterero “Bolpebra” and the former magazine of the same name. The team was completed by Paola Blas, responsible for audiovisual production and Alejandro Palomino, head of environment and script. To which we must add dozens of thanks to the remarkable people who helped us along the way.
The objective of this team was to offer our knowledge and selfless willingness to local problems, to bring the message to the first world, creating debate and union links. Following these interviews, we have participated in the inclusion of suggestions for improvement, we cite above all, the recent purchase of land in Iñapari, the three-border town, for the construction of a popular hospital by the director of Hospital Primavera in Trujillo (Peru) with an agreement of health improvement which will benefit the residents of the three nations.
Freddy Troncoso (owner of Ecolodge “WASAÍ”, Puerto Maldonado):
- The road has enabled access to the Amazon region for foreign tourists. Without this pathway road travel was too slow and difficult, being air transport the only option, at a much higher price. Tourism in the area has multiplied with the construction of the road.
- The main attract factor for Puerto Maldonado is being the capital of biodiversity, so visitors are chasing the image of an untouched paradise. That’s why most of the accomodation for foreigners accounts with ecological criteria; for example, WASAÍ has the “Rainforest Alliance” label because it meets the requirements for sustainable tourism, causing the least possible disturbance in the middle.
Anonymous (local guide from an Ecolodge near the Tambopata National Reserve):
- Tourism has created a new source of income for people in the region, and provides good working conditions. Besides, a cultural exchange in the region is generated with a national pride for the beauty of the land, new ideas come to the region and influence the environmental awareness of visitors once they have left the jungle.
- Working in the informal mining is very lucrative and accessible to everyone. If you have chosen a good place to dredge sand, a small group of men can divide gold worth several weeks of average peruvian salary in a single day of work. The work is tiring and mercury poisoning is inevitable. We note that in his own case, he had worked intermittently as a miner, but now has a family and has not been involved for years in gold mining thanks to his work in tourism.
We can find many studies that induce us to think that tourism is the economic activity in the region with less environmental damage in relation to the income it generates. Ecotourism has the capacity to replace jobs in harmful sectors to the environment, and the success of this economic activity depends on the environmental quality of their environment. As a new phenomenon in the region, it is highly recommended to further the studies in different areas, to avoid unforeseen environmental impacts.
Education and health
Dra. Margarida Aquino (Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Acre):
- When people speak of the road as a detriment to the environment, they need to also understand its role in integration, allowing international exchange programs. These programs are bringing experts in forest management to Acre and training our people in the management of their environment. It is not the road that causes the deforestation but a lack of proper forest management and control. The university coordinates supports for environmental management in the area, using the road. Also this road was the way used to bring food from Peru when the city of Acre was cut off from the rest of Brazil by the flood in 2014.
Dra. Socorro Castillo de Hidalgo (Pediatrician in Acre and Puerto Maldonado):
- Urgent care was impossible without the paved road, significantly hampering access to emergency health services for the population that lives in the cities. It creates a shortening of distances, which has increased the health culture in the general population and has also facilitated access to deliver health care to indigenous communities who barely received care assistance before.
We understand that the use of the road has not only commercial function, it is a social necessity of the first order for the populations it crosses. Previous communication pathways were unable to act properly in case of emergencies, increasing the risk for an every year larger number of residents. We see that in Acre logging has been controlled after having the road opened, through sustainable development projects and forest management. From the junction of the road with Peru in 2005, the rate of deforestation in Acre dropped from 111,000 ha / year to 22,000 ha / year in 2008.
Ruben Darío Suarez Ortiz (Advisor on International Relations “Secretaria de Estado de Desenvolvimento Florestal, da Indústria, do Comércio e dos Serviços Sustentáveis”, Acre):
- In the eighties with the end of the military governement in Brazil, began a civilian government, with a policy of occupation towards the Brazilian Amazon. They offered land to anyone who would move to the territory and even sent cattle by plane, due to the difficulty of land transport. That’s when they begin the environmental protests, Chico Mendes joined them, he was a poor rubber producer against the cattle occupation of the Amazon. Until then right-wing governments ruled, which did not concern about the environment, cutting down trees without ecological criteria and getting huge profits. But in the wake of the death of Chico Mendes, environmental awareness was increasing. In 1989 the first left-wing governor won the elections, the symbol of his party was the chestnut (Bertholletia excelsa), Amazonian tree that produces the Brazil nut and can be harvested without cutting down the tree. Subsequently deforested lands that were left unused started being used as crops, avoiding the increase on deforestation.
- Acre is now the Brazilian state with the highest Brazil nut production (through its cooperative “Cooperacre”), at a fair price (a can of 18 kg was sold 1-2 Reais, now 18-20 Reais) because owners of the cooperative are the same collectors. Currently the state of Acre maintains strict control of the state of their forests, is the only state in Brazil with an agency that negotiates the sale of carbon credits, with millions in profits by selling mainly to Europe, so it is a success story of the REDD + program. Ecological preservation in Acre is exemplary and is located close to that of Costa Rica. There are many economically sustainable projects that support the Acrianos, for example a factory of male latex condoms that buys from the sustainable producers that live in the forest itself.
- Monitoring the trees allows forest management that must be maintained, the trees are selected according to sustainable parameters, that contemplate the extraction of senescencent trees, which see their ecological function and productive capacity decline. Replanting of new outbreaks in the place of the felled tree is a common practice and to do so they have a nursery with different timber species.
Antonio Barbosa (Chief of the agricultural surveillance unit, customs control point Brasil-Perú):
- Each month up to 5,000 people cross the border through the checkpoint. The market exchange allowed by the road has meant an improvement to the region and a better supply of products. As a member of MAP, Barbosa has a personal sensitivity to conservation, and attests to the use of the road for environmental control. Considers that the road has not had a knock-on effect, for example, for the trafficking of wild animals as they now controls more and respond faster to a complaint of illegal activities, and may detain those involved before their escape.
Abraham Cardoso (Chief Manager of Maderacre, Iñapari)
- After the decline of the rubber market in this area, the only viable economic activity in an area whose system of long-distance transport was only river-down, sending the wood following the stream towards the coast. He considers that they have learned the lessons of their parents and grandparents, so now looking to leverage timber resources sustainably with technical and scientific monitoring, which allows them to reap what the forest is able to replenish naturally. Maintaining the forest is the only way to remain its service to the community.
- They draw one tree per hectare every 20 years. They have three international green certificates, including WWF who uses them as example of successful timber management and thus give consumers knowledge that they are participating in conservation. They also count with the control SERFOR (Forestal Service Peru), to which they add voluntarily the OSINFOR supervision (Supervisory Agency of Forest Resources and Wildlife). But meeting all these requirements adds value to the wood. With this they get to offer decent jobs, harmonizing the development, quality of life and care of the forest, sharing a culture of forest conservation previously known to a phew. These certificates add a tool to fix carbon, the sustainable logging accredited by REDD +, it allows them to sell bonds of CO2 emissions that would be generated with another use of that land. They sell bonds to the first world as a means of mitigating climate change, securing natural resources for future generations.
- The road is not positive or negative per se, it depends on how they use it. Thanks to this road viable sustainable projects were made possible, allowing the local police to control the illegal logging, reducing the cost of transport to port for timber and their small farmers. Without the road, he says, it would only be feasible smuggling and illegal logging. Challenges remain that need work, the state must order and inventory of the timber resources of the Peruvian Amazon. With 80 million hectares of forest just in Madre de Dios, it is necessary to refine the legislation to reach a consensus to establish reserve areas and planned productive areas. They calculate, that if industrial electricity would be available along the road, they could create 30,000 jobs in sustainable logging and centers of technological implementation, where the locals would do the woodworking instead of sending the product with water and waste the rest of the world. Given that there are 40,000 people working in informal mining, the transfer of activity would be obvious, since the problem of informal mining is the lack of opportunities and the road brings just that.
We can actually see an ecological culture in important people in the region, of which the town is observant, like Cardoso who is very influential in Iñapari. The differences in environmental management between Madre de Dios and Acre are strong, successful resource management in Acre comes from the environmental pride that exists in the history of Acre and Madre de Dios now has a close and advanced example from where to take forestry management knowledge and ideas for the formation of cooperatives. We thought the most appropriate instrument for this improvement is the MAP, a collaborative effort between citizens for development and conservation, with polycentric structure, assembly system and decision capacity affecting the three countries of the region.
We understand that deforestation can not simply be blamed on a road that has greatly improved the quality of life of their peoples, poor and interested environmental management and phenomena such as police corruption (attributable not only to culture but also to salaries that are too low). It is precisely the road that has allowed us and many experts and journalists to access these previously unreachable areas, revealing what happens and providing solutions.
In search of economic solutions
Countries sharing this rich and fragile region, have made efforts to conserve and sustainably develop the Amazon, however, they still have to develop a joint environmental vision Amazon. The future of the Amazon will be determined by public policies related to the use of natural resources, market performance and the application of science for sustainable development.
This sensitivity of the region to the markets, makes it necessary to work with maximum support on the lines of Amazon forest conservation and climate change; integrated management of water resources; and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystem services. During the making of this article, we described factors of optimism and black spots in the region, it is a fact, the Amazon society is improving its environmental thinking and acting with more sustainable values. But poverty and low confidence on governance delay this adaptation to the environmental reality. There is no single solution to such a complex process, but with this article we endorse the importance of protected environmental management projects with international funding in the Amazon territory.
It is to generate and disseminate environmental information in the region, but without forgetting in turn to negotiate minor points that allow a balance with daily activities of the local people. Amazon countries should extend their integration efforts and cooperation beyond energy integration and infrastructure, modeling sustainable development and adding financial instruments for environmental management including financing funds for the implementation of environmental programs in the Amazon, as is example since 2008 the Brazilian Amazon Fund, it has financed a total of 69 projects totaling US $ 370 million based on voluntary contributions from the state company Petrobras and the Governments of Norway and Germany.
In Peru, the Promotion Fund of Protected Natural Areas of Peru with projects and programs financed on the basis of millions of global grants and private agencies, and largely based on “debt for nature swap” with Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and the United States.
The debt for nature swap involves purchasing foreign debt, converting it to local currency and using the resulting product to finance conservation activities. It may seem unthinkable that a commercial bank or government with a millionaire paydebt is willing to part with it for less than half the debted amount, but by adding ecological values to the economic reality that many developing countries can not cope with their accumulation of debt, negotiations for redemption open. The debt for nature swaps have made a significant contribution in the field of conservation, these mechanisms have adapted to the opportunities and specific conditions of each case. Now they are using new mechanisms involving a similar creativity and appropriate forms of cooperation for increasing private investment combining achieving economic benefits and the achievement of the objectives of long-term preservation.
The last months, Peru has seen mechanisms such as the Regional Environmental Fund Lambayeque, with the intention of conserving natural resources and ecosystem services in the basins of this part of the country. Important institutions have joined them but they need to involve key stakeholders in the private sector and international cooperation. For this they used the forum “financing mechanisms for conservation of natural resources and sustainable development”, that worked in August 2014 in the capital Chiclayo and finding possible adhesions.
One of the hard points in the negotiation of the XX International Conference on Climate Change of the United Nations (COP20) held in the Peruvian capital, Lima, that ended in December 2014 was the global funding to face climate change through the recent Green Climate Fund of the United Nations. The goal was to reach US $ 100,000 million annually from 2020 and it has reached US $ 10,000 million from the major economies of the world, Peru offered $ 10 million to encourage the other economies. The projected 2020 figure may seem excessive but the consensus is that it is actually much less than what it is really required by the developing countries to address climate change. The UNEP estimated that developing countries would have to increase its investments to around US $ 500 billion per year by 2050 to achieve adaptation to climate change.
Ultimately we believe that these economic mechanisms of international negotiations will be of capital importance in the coming decades, as many of the countries with tropical forests still have high levels of poverty… and the atmosphere knows no borders.
Alejandro Palomino de Dios
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