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Strategic Alliances, Partnerships, and Collective Action: Rubber Tappers and Extractives Reserves in Rondonia, Brazil

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Rosendo, Sergio; Brown, Katrina Myrvang
Conference: Crossing Boundaries, the Seventh Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Conf. Date: June 10-14
Date: 1998
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1501
Sector: Forestry
Region: South America
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
forest management
local participatory management
collective action
Abstract: "One of the most well-known examples of grassroots environmental action is the movement of rubber tappers which emerged in Brazil during the 1980s for the conservation of forests through the establishment of extractive reserves, which are defined as 'conservation units that guarantee the rights of traditional populations to engage in harvesting forest products such as rubber and fruits'. The creation of extractive reserves has been promoted as 'among the most important strategies for forest conservation' (Hecht, 1989:53). The designation of extractive reserves has gained support from a diverse array of actors, particularly conservation and environmental organizations who regard it as an opportunity to put into practice an explicit linkage between conservation and development. In addition, the rubber tappers' struggle to win the rights to natural resources in these areas has also gained attention of media world-wide, at a time when deforestation, especially in Amazonia, is a major issue for northern environmentalists. This paper examines empowerment within the context of these initiatives. It investigates the alliances formed between environmental NGOs and other agencies and rubber tappers and how far rubber tappers have been empowered through as a result of the intervention of these organisations." "The evidence presented in the paper derives from research in the Western Brazilian State of Rondonia (see Figure 1) and involves a case-study of a project supported by one of the largest international conservation NGOs, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). This project is a partnership between WWF; local rubber tappers' communities represented by the Rondonia Organisation of Rubber Tappers (OSR) and its member Associations; and a regional environmental NGO (ECOPORE). Research involves examination of key institutions, including the OSR and other organisations located in Port Velho, the administrative center of Rondonia, and case studies of three selected extractive reserves (see Figure 1). "Subsequent sections discuss the way in which empowerment has been interpreted and implemented in conservation projects. It distinguishes two dimensions of empowerment - political empowerment and economic empowerment - and examines how each of these have been affected by the alliances between rubber tappers and external agencies."

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