We have been neglecting excellent reporting in the Food & Environment Reporting Network over the last four years. Here is a good correction to the oversight. Our orientation to entrepreneurial conservation makes us cheer this on:
Many downplay capitalist solutions to conservation. But they could spark the wealth transfer needed to save the world’s largest rainforest.
On a rainy March afternoon, Rogério Mendes strides through the dripping vegetation of a tract of virgin Amazonian forest and stops at a tree with scars arranged in neat diagonal rows across its trunk. From his back pocket he produces a wood-handled tool with a blade on one end, called a cabrita, and cuts another diagonal line though the bark, beneath the others. A milky white goo—raw liquid latex—begins to trickle down this tiny canal and into a metal pail below.
“I love being in the forest, it’s an inexplicable feeling,” says the 23-year-old, who sports a tattered canvas hat and a forearm inked with tree tattoos. Rogério’s father, Raimundão, is the cousin of Chico Mendes, Brazil’s most famous environmental activist, a rubber tapper who was murdered in 1988 by a rancher who wanted to turn the family’s traditional tapping grounds into pasture. The family lives in the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve, which was created after his death and is part of a system of more than 75 extractive reserves that have since been established across the region.
Brazil’s publicly owned extractive reserves prohibit large-scale agriculture, logging, and mining. The Indigenous groups and nonnative settlers who live there, however, may engage in more traditional and sustainable harvesting, such as rubber tapping and the collection of wild nuts, fruits, and fiber. The market for most of these products, unfortunately, is not particularly lucrative. While the reserves are considered a triumph of conservation, the lack of income-earning opportunities has led to more and more illicit clearing within their boundaries. A 2017 analysis by the Environmental Defense Fund found that 17 percent of deforestation in the Amazon occurs in protected areas, including by some of the Mendeses’ neighbors. Prior to 2013, about four square miles of forest was lost each year in the Chico Mendes Reserve, but by 2019, nearly five square miles were being lost each month…
Read the whole article here.