The ACRI project sought to improve the practice of community management of natural resources as a strategy for sustainable development at the local level in the Amazon basin. To achieve its purpose the project developed three main strategies:
1. Clarify the complex web of ecological and social factors related to the communal management of natural resources. The process includes the identification of success factors in local initiatives by indigenous and coastal users in the Amazon rainforest regions of Brazil and Peru.
2. Overcoming barriers that hinder a deeper understanding of the ties between the depredation of natural resources and the impoverishment of human communities; encouraging dialogue among all stakeholders to explore the potential of communal resource management as a privileged response to local environmental and economic deterioration.
3. Strengthen the institutions of the countries of the Amazon basin and the United States, so that they can better address the socio-cultural and ecological problems underlying the sustainable use and management of ecosystems and their resources.
The conceptual framework
The ACRI Project understands community management of natural resources as a process in which a User Group, made up of a set of domestic units that live relatively close by, have common institutions and depend on the same source of natural resources, choose to develop a viable long-term management system for the use of natural resources. For the Amazon basin we distinguish two types of community systems to manage natural resources:
• implicit community management systems, i.e. based on tradition and custom;
• explicit systems, which link institutions and actions with specific management objectives.
ACRI is interested in identifying and analyzing the factors that condition the achievement of positive results in the most explicit systems. These latter systems are characterized as intentional, as they are carried out in a market context and maintain a collaborative relationship with external agents belonging to the university community, the government or NGOs.
To achieve its objectives ACRI has concentrated its actions on three case studies, two located in Peru and one in Brazil.
Case 1.- Fishing management in the El Chino community, Tahuayo River, Loreto, Peru
El Chino is a riverine community located in the Tahuayo River basin in the Loreto region. The inhabitants of this community are engaged in different economic activities such as agriculture, hunting, fishing, animal rearing, handicrafts, coal production, forest resource harvesting, trade and laborer work. Fishing in El Chino is one of the main food sources.
Case 2.- Communal territory management in the Native Community of Infierno, Madre de Dios, Peru
Infierno is a native community located on both sides of the Tambopata River, in the Madre de Dios region. It is a socially and culturally heterogeneous community, made up of natives of the Ese’eja ethnic group, Andean settlers, riverine communities, and mestizos. The highway that connects the community with the capital of the region, Puerto Maldonado, allows easy access to the market and the constant presence of external agents such as NGOs, researchers and tourism companies. The interest of external agents lies in the community’s strategic position regarding the Tambopata Candamo National Reserve, considered one of the most biodiverse in the world.
Case 3.- Fisheries management of Amazon várzea lakes, on the Solimoes, Japurá, Tefé and Amazon rivers, in Brazil
The region of Solimoes is located in the state of Amazonas, Brazil. It has been the scene of the emergence of dozens of local initiatives of community management of lakes and fishing resources. The ACRI project studied this lakes preservation movement.
Case studies considerations
Public policies on the allocation and use of natural resources differ in space and time. Favorable laws and regulations should be taken into account as a possible conditional factor for community management of natural resources. In addition, it should be noted that other elements such as the political-institutional framework, the resource market, and violence also influence the success of natural resource management. Since local communities are part of a broader and dependent socioeconomic network for market access, among other things, it is important that they can interpret and describe this complex of interconnected relationships, identify the characteristics of the interconnection points, and discover the most efficient routes of this system.