Community and Sustainable Development Programs
Amazon - Home of Many Peoples
Providing Amazon peoples with the resources and education necessary to improve standards of living and health care are essential to the long-term well-being of the Amazon rainforest as well as the people that inhabit this vast area. People have lived in the Amazon for over 10,000 years, are living there now, and will continue living there. Efforts to save the Amazon cannot ignore this, and it is naïve to think that we can save the Amazon by creating vast parks free from human activity. This region has resources vital to the countries that share it, and to the people that live in it. Intelligent and appropriate sustainable development strategies can ensure that the needs of Amazon residents are met, that Amazon countries have the opportunity to develop their economies, and that the Amazon rainforest persists as an ecologically functioning ecosystem which plays an important role in regulating the global climate.
Promotion of sustainable harvesting and conservation of forest resources has the potential to enhance living standards in rural areas, and to help slow the migration of people from forest communities to the cities. Development projects that enhance health and living standards in traditional rural settings also enhance the long-term survival of the forest, since people who know the forest intimately, and who value it for a wide range of products and services are also the least likely to cut it down for large scale timber harvesting or cattle-ranching. Ironically, the best way to save the forest may be to keep people in it! We are working on (or have worked on) development projects in small-scale timber harvesting techniques, ornamental fish collecting, pottery, woodworking, rain-forest fruit and nut harvesting, rain-forest handicrafts and specialty products, and related activities. Such activities, properly managed, add considerable value to maintaining the rainforest in a natural or semi-natural state, and can discourage widespread clear-cutting for lumber and grazing.