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How can we monetize and create value for the conservation of the forest? Part I

Updated: Jan 20, 2023

Richness of Amazon and its importance

The Amazon forest is the largest rainforest in the world, holding a diversity of more than 300 mammal species, 1300 bird species, 1800 fish species, over 500 reptile, and amphibian species, and more than 400 indigenous communities, totaling 20% of the world’s biodiversity. The Amazon is present in 9 countries with over 5 million square kilometers, occupying almost 60% of the Brazilian territory.

Besides the rich biodiversity in fauna and flora, the rainforest is composed of a complex mosaic of ecosystems that function as a provider of ecosystem services that are essential for economic activities and human livelihood. Without them, humankind could collapse. These services are climate regulation on the planet, rainfall patterns, provision of food and medicinal products, raw material for industry, preservation of crucial species, maintenance of agriculture development in other regions of the continent, and maintenance of river levels among many others.

Beyond having these essential ecosystem services being provided naturally, the Amazon also counts on many traditional villages such as indigenous and riverside communities, which generate their subsistence and income whereas managing the forest in a conservationist framework

Who lives in the Amazon?

their livelihood and role in guarding the forest

The traditional communities in the Amazon forest vary in multiple aspects: the identification of the group as indigenous, riverside, quilombola, or other. The configuration of time and reason for migrating to that region. The livelihood. The economic activities, and so on.

Due to this characterization of people who live inside the Amazon forest, next to its rivers, or in Conservation Units, naturally, they need to make use of services and products provided by the forest, also caused by the fact of low-speed civil construction development in the northern region -which difficult the access to urban centers’ markets-, or as a consequence of the strong cultural heritage present in some populations.

Since the ancient communities that populated or were born in the forest, there is a cultural understanding, sometimes even of a religious kind, to appreciate, be grateful and take care of nature, which is considered, for them, the great provider of rain, soil fertility, trees, air purification, leisure, food in general, medicine, and many others. On account of that, they are considered the greatest guardians of the forest, for living in symbiosis with it and protecting it.

The emergence of valuing natural resources and the methodologies

As it’s markable in the global daily news, the Amazon forest is threatened by many factors and agents, including ruralists and agribusiness expansion activities, logging projects, land grabbing, lack of effective public policies, or even dismantling of monitoring governmental institutions.

Indigenous and quilombola communities struggle to have their lands homologated as indigenous and quilombola lands, which guarantees their rights over the land and their well-being against deforestation and the agricultural frontier advance. From 2004 to 2014, deforestation in Brazil was reduced by 80%, and this is due to the creation of protected lands and the issuance of policies that stand for the conservation of natural resources. Therefore, the achievement of deforestation reduction through the creation and management of Conservation Units is notorious.

The complications over homologating indigenous lands or creating Conservation Units consist in a lack of society’s comprehension about the importance of the conservation of natural resources against intensive exploitation of the ecosystems with an economic-driven consideration, once the economic activities depend on the standing forest and its ecosystems conserved, and the products and services provided by the forest -when this last is conserved and put under a sustainable management model- can generate a financial return and regional development whereas causing severe inferior damage to the environment.

The current strategies, like carbon, PES, and forest products management

As in the present day the natural resources are so underrated and economically undervalued, many attempts in recent years have tried to estimate the real economic value of our biodiversity, to demonstrate how much would it cost if humanity had to pay for the services provided by oceans, forests, animals, etc, in a perspective of picturing a scenario where the current global production model exploited the ecosystems to a no returning point.

A global effort from industries and governments all over the world to combine market mechanisms and the mitigation of climate change was noticed when, as a consequence of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was created and had several nations complying with its objectives, like compromised nations having emissions reduced by 5,2% until 2012, and also the creation and engagement of a Carbon credits market.

With enterprises and individuals compensating for/offsetting their emissions in a scalable way, the monetization of carbon as a result of the avoided deforestation was made popular and appealing and started functioning, not only as a methodology to give value to standing forests but also as a reliable market and business niche. So far, 46 countries are pricing emissions through carbon taxes or emissions trading schemes (ETS) and others are considering it.

Looking closer at the financial mechanisms for environmental conservation in Brazil, it’s also valid to highlight the Payment for Environmental Services Policy

Which has enabled rural settlement families, extractivists, and rural producers to have a financial incentive to conserve the surroundings of their land. In some realities like in Extrema city, in the state of Minas Gerais, the most common activity in the countryside was the pasture lease in 2012. With a municipal government investment program that had also NGOs and private sector companies involved, the project “Conservador das Águas” enabled families to engage in conservationist efforts in the region by paying this local population an amount that exceeded the revenue they’d have with the pasture lease business. In light of these facts, it is arguable that Brazil has the potential to foment a scenario in favor of the development and enhancement of financial mechanisms for conservation purposes.

Analyzing the Amazon region, as aforementioned about the ecosystem services, it’s outstanding the way the demand for oils and fruits for cosmetics, or fruit pulps and nuts for natural-gourmet-healthy feeding has increased worldwide. For instance, the açaí exportation has increased by 15.000% in a period of ten years. As for the Brazilian Nuts exportation, it reaches sixty countries and already represented revenue of US$ 20 million in sales in 2021- numbers 80% higher than six years ago. This means that the demand for Amazon forest products can impact positively not only the demand for the conservation of the forest and its natural resources but also the development of traditional communities which are vital protagonists in managing the forest and respecting its resilience for attending such demand.


FÁVARO, Fernando, FLORES, Jussara. Aves da Estação Ecológica Terra do Meio, Pará, Brasil:resultados preliminares…

(Diegues, 2004), citado por Calegare, Higuchi e Bruno (2014)

Maria Betânia Barbosa Albuquerque

Loureiro (2004), citado por Calegare, Higuchi e Bruno (2014)


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