amazon rainforest forever

Ecotourism-based projects support forest conservation and collaborate with riparian communities

 

by Nathalia Molina / Fernando Victorino

The activity of extracting the best from the Forest through preservation is a winning strategy for all. In addition to preserving one of the richest biomes in the world. Living in the Amazon and teaching travelers to respect their environment enhances responsible ecotourism, the survival of riverside communities and improves life on the planet.

Some tourism entrepreneurs’ actions to preserve the environment include ecologically correct business measures and local labor, a critical social development tool. In the Amazon, jungle hotels and river expeditions help raise awareness of locals and visitors and physically prevent environmental disasters.

“Travelling market professionals show beauties of the Amazon biome to the world, the importance of its preservation, and act quite often against deforestation and burning. Whether through their staff working as volunteers in actions to address such issues or through donations to the affected populations and NGOs”, says Caio Fonseca, director of Juma hotels. He says he provides lectures on protecting the Amazon, addressing recycling, and environmental disaster reduction to his staff.

“Ninety percent of our staff are local, contributing to income generation and enhancing the importance of conserving the Forest. “Founded 20 years ago, the Juma Amazon Lodge, a jungle hotel, has 7,000 hectares and is located about three hours from the Amazonas State capital, Manaus.

“The idea is to provide a perspective of the rain forest as a priority within the immersive experience, maintaining the ecological balance. The bungalows provide the necessary comfort, without excesses, and the infrastructure has forty photovoltaic panels and seventy-two batteries to ensure electricity, reducing the use of conventional generators”, says Fonseca.

In 2020, Juma Amazon Lodge won the Abeta Brasil Natural award in the Sustainability category, awarded annually by the Brazilian Association of Ecotourism and Adventure Tourism Companies. The jungle hotel also has a solar water heating system, sewage treatment plant, and waste treatment plant for garbage separation. Hotel guests are encouraged to interact respectfully with nature, engage in activities, to plant a tree to contribute to the ecosystem.

Also, in the Amazon, the Katerre Expedition has been conducting river trips in harmony with riverside communities since 2004. The three to seven-night tours explore the Rio Negro and its arms – Jaú, Apuaú, Jauaperi, and Aracá. The two vessels depart from Novo Airão (two hundred kilometers from Manaus), a municipality with eighty-five percent of its extension protected by some Conservation Unit. “Our vessel’s maximum capacity is restricted to sixteen passengers. The Katerre Expedition has community-based tourism in its DNA,” says Ruy Tone, one of the partners.

In his opinion, the population has a crucial role in ecotourism activities, providing authenticity to the experiences. “In the community of Cachoeira do Jaú, during the flooding season, canoers lead visitors along the water trails in the igapós and share their wisdom about the fauna and flora,” he says. “Observe the simple way of life of these families, visit a flour house and a community school, taste fresh fish… Visits to the communities are some of the most exciting tours and requested activities among visitors. Many riparian community dwellers rely on this activity to survive.

“Katerre’s partner believes that sustainable tourism is critical to keep up the development of the Amazon Forest, generate income, and preserve the rainforest. “Companies are accountable for having an active role in socio-environmental pillars, essential for forest preservation” Mr. Tone highlights the city’s urban area, riverside communities, forests, and rivers among them. Professor Paul Clark from Scotland started 17 years ago a project, in partnership with the Jauaperi River Artisans Association (AARJ), between Amazonas and Roraima, in the region where Katerre operates, mobilizing local volunteers. They perform surveillance against traffickers and illegal hunter’s river chelonians.

“Companies are accountable for having an active role in socio-environmental pillars essential for forest preservation”

There are sixteen species, but four (iaça, irapuca, tracajá, and turtle) are threatened during the spawning season on beaches. “It is a continuous dedication of almost five months, from egg harvesting to offspring releasing stage.

By 2020, about 3,000 baby turtles were returned to nature safely. Ensuring the existence of these species is to provide the maintenance of all Amazonian biodiversity.”

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