The rainforest surrounding Brazil’s Baixo Rio Negro is an Amazonian storehouse of biological treasures, including endangered hyacinth macaws, caimans, capybaras and even jaguars. Traditionally, the abundance of the land surrounding the world’s largest black-water river sustained nearby communities, but today rural families are struggling to get by on meager earnings from fishing and agriculture, and many have resorted to illegal logging.
As Brazil prepares for a huge influx of visitors for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, the Rainforest Alliance is working with Baixo Rio Negro forest communities near the Anavilhanas Archipelago National Park to develop their sustainable tourism infrastructure as a defense against the environmental threats associated with heavy tourism. We are providing training, in collaboration with local NGOs belonging to the Community-Based Tourism Forum of Baixo Rio Negro, to help community enterprises raise their business practices to our sustainable tourism verification standard and turn profits that will diminish the need to engage in destructive logging.
“We want tourism that will help us preserve our pink dolphins and our forests,” say Maria Silvana and Trico Evangelista Cruz, participants in the program. “Tourism that will contribute to the development of our community, improve our lives and generate income for our families. This workshop has helped us learn from each other how to better manage our tourism activities.”
The Baixo Rio Negro initiative is one example of the Rainforest Alliance’s proven sustainable tourism strategy, which has enlisted 35 local communities in protecting an estimated half a million acres (more than 202,000 hectares) of valuable ecosystems. By providing an economic alternative to logging, sustinable tourism creates incentives for conservation and contributes to climate change mitigation by alleviating stresses on the forests and conserving valuable carbon stocks.
This is an excerpt from the Rainforest Alliance 2012 Annual Report. We’ll be including highlights from the report on the Frog Blog over the coming months.