Sustainable Business in the Brazilian Amazon

Conservation Strategy Fund has been working with traditional communities in Brazil to support low-impact activities in the Amazon region. These activities have subsequently grown into sustainable businesses, from both an environmental and economic perspective. The guidance CSF has given these locally-owned businesses has helped them to grow substantially and aims to eventually contribute to decreased deforestation in Brazil.

Three business plans were developed for the indigenous communities Paumari (Tapauá -AM), Paiter Suruí (Cacoal - RO) and the riverside community in Reserva Extrativista do Rio Ituxi (Lábrea -AM). CSF helped create management plans for arapaima (also known as pirarucu) fishing, and the harvesting of both the wood and the fruit of the Brazil nut tree. CSF staff contributed to the gathering of both scientific and traditional knowledge about the sustainable use of natural resources for the Indigenous community. CSF also helped these communities begin to view sustainable harvesting, in collaboration with appropriate marketing strategies, as a means to achieve economic gains. In addition to business planning, communities were trained in management, how to join trade associations, and other ways to begin implementing their businesses. This work was made possible thanks to the Biodiversity Conservation Project on Public Lands in the Brazilian Amazon, funded by USAID, the Skoll Foundation, and Avina.

The pirarucu fishing business has seen eye-catching results within the first year of operation - in September 2013, the community caught 50 fish totaling more than 7,700 lbs. This generated income of around $7,500 for those involved in the fishing. CSF's role was key to analyzing the viability of various types of fisheries with different marketing strategies. This business was founded upon five years of monitoring fish stocks, training in fisheries management, and partnerships undertaken with support from OPAN (Operação Amazônia Nativa) and IPI (Instituto Piagaçu).

There are still major challenges to promoting sustainable business in the Amazon. Through our work in this region, CSF hopes to contribute to more success stories like this one, and to replicate these types of undertakings throughout the Amazon region.