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Acai Palm Management in the Amazon Estuary: Course for Conservation or Passage to Plantations?

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Weinstein, Stephanie; Moegenburg, Susan
Journal: Conservation and Society
Volume: 2
Page(s):
Date: 2004
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/3114
Sector: Forestry
Region: South America
Subject(s): Amazon River region
deforestation
livelihoods
economic behavior
conservation
palm
Abstract: "In the late 1980s, the acai (Euterpe oleracea) fruit and palmito extraction system of eastern Amazonia was heralded as a promising alternative to deforestation that could simultaneously provide income to rural producers and protect forest integrity. We tested these claims in five communities located along a distance gradient from the largest regional market in Belem, Brazil. We evaluated the market accessibility and manage strategies of acai producers, and assessed the impacts of management on forest characteristics. In contrast to other NTFP systems, we found that distance to the major market is not a limiting factor for acai sales because throughout the region intermediaries are readily available to transport intensification of palm management, which results in the conversion of native floodplain forests into acai-dominated forests that closely resemble plantations. We conclude that the acai system is not typical of other NTFP and should not be regarded as a model for merging forest conservation with rural development. However, the increased demand for acai, especially from educated consumers, together with the ease of production and marketing, present an opportunity to develop the acai system into one in which both rural livelihoods and forest integrity are supported."

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