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A Community-Based Approach for Managing Forest Patches in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil: A Case Study of the Micro-Watershed Barracão dos Mendes, Rio de Janiero State

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Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Author: de Souza, Fernanda Oliveira
Date: 2014
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/9758
Sector: Forestry
Region: South America
Subject(s): community development
conservation
forests
natural resources
Abstract: "In the last 400 years, the coastal Brazilian Atlantic Forest, one of the world's top biodiversity hotspots, has been transformed from once being a continuous forest, into an intensely fragmented landscape due to human activities. Rural small communities living embedded into this mosaic of forest fragments rely on natural resources, and their livelihoods depend on their capacity to use and manage these fragments effectively. Thus, the inclusion of rural communities in the processes of forest conservation and management may serve both environmental and community development objectives. The current study aims to close the existent gap between communities and legal environmental requirements to ensure livelihoods and to preserve functioning ecosystems and ecosystem services, in Barracão dos Mendes micro-watershed. The objective is to develop ideas how local people can be involved in forest conservation processes within the concept of community-based development. The study area is located inside the buffer zone of a protected area, the Três Picos National Park. The methodology consists of the following steps: as a basis, the Brazilian legal framework for nature conservation was analyzed. In addition, interviews with 34 local people, 5 local actors as well as a participatory mapping was carried out, to identify local assets regarding their organizational profile and individual talents, local knowledge on ecosystem values, as well as, their sense of attachment to place; and interviews with 3 external actors to identify their supporting role inside the study area. The results show that the Brazilian legal framework is still centralized-commanded and excludes rural livelihoods. External actors mainly act as funding agents, which partly causes communities dependency on external interventions instead of capacity building, which may mobilize local assets. On the other hand, the existing local assets such as organizational ones are significant – such as local associations and committees for their representation – in addition of local knowledge on ecosystem values – such as establishment of riparian forests for water provision – showing a positive trend for grass-root development and conservation to occur. Through the proper use of the natural resources by local people, rather than prohibition, the local conservational status and community development may succeed. Moreover, the study showed that additional in-depth researches under a community-based development and conservation approach is needed for Barracão dos Mendes micro-watershed."

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