Ian Starr, MF

2010 TRI Fellow in Brazil

A case study in the selection and implementation of payments for ecosystem services in the Tumucumaque Indiginous Reserve, Brazil

One-fifth of the Brazilian Amazon is legally defined as indigenous territory. However, these areas and the communities that live there often receive little attention or proactive support by the government and non-governmental organizations to promote community-driven conservation and development projects. The conservation and development initiatives that have occurred in the Tumucumaque indigenous reserve (TIR) of northeastern Brazil are somewhat of an exception to this trend. The indigenous communities of the western portion of the TIR currently benefit from a strong community association, APITIKATXI (Associação dos Povos Indigenous Tiriyô, Kaxuyana e Txikuyana), which represents the collective interests of the communities of this area to government agencies and non-profit organizations. APITIKATXI works to garner support and assistance for a variety of community development projects ranging from potable water projects to large-scale conservation efforts.

Due to its degree of isolation in the northeast Amazon, characteristics of the TIR are poorly studied compared with other areas and communities of Amazonia. To this author’s knowledge there have been no published socioeconomic assessments of the area. Some of the best and most recent data concerning the life-ways and products utilized by the indigenous communities of the TIR date back to the works of anthropologist Protásio Frikel during the 1960’s and 70’s. Much has changed since those accounts were written and little data is available concerning the current socioeconomic reality of the communities in the region. In response to this lack of current information, which could be used to leverage additional assistance for the benefit of the TIR from outside sources, APITIKATXI requested assistance from the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) and The Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF). Consultations between APITIKAXTI, ACT, and CSF identified the need to gather current socioeconomic data within the TIR as a priority. This study describes the methods and results of a recent study conducted by this author with support from the three aforementioned institutions to conduct a rapid estimation of the annual levels of consumption of staple foods and of monetary income at the household level within the Tumucumaque Indigenous Reserve, Brazil.