Three success factors for the conservation of the Rio Negro Basin in the Brazilian Amazon: Governance and participation, public-private alliances, and conservation mosaics

Fabiano Silva
Published: 02 October 2017
Last edited: 29 March 2019
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This solution promotions local participation, to guarantee access to natural resources in the zone adjacent to the Jaú National Park. This coupled with the application of a conservation mosaic approach, to consolidate a more extensive protected territory; and the inclusion of the Park in a State Program for the conservation of tropical forests, with public, private and international funding, have been key factors for the conservation of the Black River basin of the Amazon.


South America
Scale of implementation
Freshwater ecosystems
Wetland (swamp, marsh, peatland)
Access and benefit sharing
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Protected area governance
Protected area management planning
World Heritage
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Poor governance and participation
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 6: Sustainable management of aquatic living resources
Target 11: Protected areas


Jaú National Park, Novo Airão - State of Amazonas, Brazil
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The Jaú National Park faced the challenge of strong socio-environmental conflicts due to its creation as a strict-protection área management category in a territory with a historical presence of local and afro-descendent communities. Historically, the Jaú and the Unini have been two of the most productive rivers in Río Negro. Both were self-sustainable food production sources, but since the first Jesuit occupation in Río Negro, the activities of fishing, small-scale agriculture and forest resource extraction increased. Also, this National Park’s strict-protection category does not allow it to have human population, and the government has conducted expropriations on people living in Jaú, limiting the rights of use of its resources.


The Unini River has ten communities and approximately 186 families dedicated to fishing and family-scale agriculture. Three of these communities are located inside the RESEX, and six in the National Park. 

How do the building blocks interact?

After the enactment of the National System of Conservation Unitis, and with the technical and financial support of local organizations such as the Vitória Amazônica Foundation (FVA) and the Amazon Region Protected Areas Program (ARPA), the Unini River RESEX was created through a request of the local communities. For this purpose, the FVA provided a space for knowledge exchange among other extractive reserves and the communities of the Unini River, providing support for the creation of the Residents’ Association of the Unini River (AMORU). This, in turn, after a process of public consultation, made the formal request to create the Unini River RESEX. The FVA support also contributed to organizational and local capacity strengthening for sustainable use of natural resources and local development. As a consequence, governance and participation of local actors in the decision-making processes within the conservation units is improving, which is the foundation for an efficient management of protected areas and the implementation of a conservation mosaic approach the integrates them as units in a larger territory.


  • The creation of the Unini River Extractive Reserve as a result of a public consultation process, with the participation of local communities.
  • The creation of an innovative mapping and use zoning methodology that enabled to work with people with varying levels of illiteracy.
  • The strengthening of organizations and local capacities to allow the local communities to develop alternative productive activities.
  • Projects for local development and natural resources management in communities contribute to a better comprehension of management strategies for protected areas, which has a positive impact on the negotiation ability of local communities.
  • The consolidation of the Jaú National Park and the Unini River Extractive Reserve as participatory drivers in management plans design and land-use planning.
  • The inclusion of both protected areas in the Low Rio Negro Conservation Mosaic.
  • Integrated landscape management and planning, which allows for resource optimization and coordination of protection activities, environmental education, monitoring, and awareness campaigns within the region.
  • Work under a consolidated territorial identity, based on the characteristics of the region, which allowed integrating multiple factors and generating better opportunities for technical and financial support for territorial management.


Fabiano Silva

“The Vitória Amazônica Foundation (FVA) started working in the Jaú National Park in 1991, ten years after the park´s creation. During the first years, we developed a research mapping process for natural resources use by the local communities and we elaborated the Park´s Management Plan, within a co-management contract with the Federal Government during 1996 and 1998. A few years after finishing the Management Plan, we began the process to create the Conservation Unit (the Unini River Extractive Reserve) in a process that continued until 2006, which helped the communities living in the Unini River to have their rights guaranteed for access to land and natural resources.

After the creation of the Unini River RESEX, ICMBio began the management processes, that is, the elaboration of the Management Plan and the creation of the Deliberative Council of the unit, with the support of the FVA as a technical ally of the ICMBio and the local communities. Nowadays we implement a natural resources monitoring system that fulfills two objectives. One, that the local communities know their own dynamics of use of natural resources so that they can reach a higher level of management autonomy. The other, to provide the Federal Government with better knowledge about resources use for the Park’s management and biodiversity. Besides that, we also began a series of projects to benefit the communities. For example, the production of chestnuts, ornamental fishing management, agricultural products, and tourism services.

One of the strongest issues we have experienced over the last 15 years has been the lack of personnel in the protected areas and their sporadic rotation, which causes existing procedures to stop. This has been the case mainly for the Jaú Park, as the RESEX has been much more stable. It is in this area that the Foundation contributes, by allowing some of the processes to work with greater independence from the Government and to continue functioning thanks to our cooperation, in such a way the level of constancy in the complex processes of research, social organization, and economic development can be maintained. In parallel to this cooperation, we carry out fundraising efforts that enables the maintainance of a constant investment in processes and the articulation of communities within the protected area, as well as the research effort that we develop with the communities.”

Contributed by

Fabiano Silva Fundação VItória Amazônica - FVA

Other contributors

Fundación Victoria Amazónica
Marco Pinheiro
Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones de la Amazonía
Mariana Macedo Leitao
Parque Nacional do Jaú