The Role of Payments for Ecological Services in the Sustainable Development and Environmental Preservation of the Rainforest: A Case Study of Barcelos, Amazonas, BR

The Role of Payments for Ecological Services in the Sustainable Development and Environmental Preservation of the Rainforest: A Case Study of Barcelos, Amazonas, BR

Alexandre A.F. Rivas (Universidade Federal do Amazonas, Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil & Piatam Institute, Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil), James R. Kahn (Environmental Studies, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA, USA & Universidade Federal do Amazonas, Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil & Piatam Institute, Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil), Carlos Edwar Freitas (Department of Fisheries Sciences, Universidade Federal do Amazonas, Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil), Lawrence E. Hurd (Department of Biology, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA, USA) and Gregory Cooper (Department of Philosophy, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/jsesd.2013070102
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Abstract

The county of Barcelos in the state of Amazonas, Brazil comprises 122 thousand square kilometers of land, composed of the rainforest, rivers and lakes of the middle Rio Negro watershed. The area is virtually free of deforestation and blessed with abundant fishery resources. It is widely regarded to be the best freshwater fishing location in the world and until recently was regarded as one of the global centers of the aquarium fish trade. Unfortunately, a variety of factors have kept the human population of this immense region from benefiting from these abundant natural resources. This paper outlines a path towards sustainable development of these resources that we developed in conjunction with the government of Barcelos, fishermen’s cooperatives, and indigenous associations. The paper illustrates how a payment for environmental services can jump start sustainable development in a pristine area and illustrate some of the factors that can impede such a system. Most discussion of payment for environmental services focuses on how such a payment can prevent deterioration of an area under current threat. The goal is to improve the quality of life of the citizens of the area in a way that eliminates future potential threats to the ecological integrity of the complex aquatic/terrestrial ecosystem. In addition to the development of human capital, a fishery and ecotourism management plan is developed that uses the revenue from the environmental tax to solve infrastructure, human capital and social capital needs. Although the official program of payment for environmental services was halted for local political reasons, the authors are in the process of establishing a voluntary program of payment for environmental services which will accomplish the same objectives.
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2. Study Area And Past Research In The Study Area

The Amazon region in general, and the state of Amazonas in particular, hold great potential for sport fishing development, because of the current abundance and size of peacock bass. The Amazon basin is over 8.5 million square kilometers, making it the largest hydrological basin in the world. The river contains over 1,300 freshwater species of fauna that have been scientifically identified and it is estimated that upwards of 3000 freshwater species live in the basin (Reis et al., 2003), with scientists still working on exploration and identification . Of all these species, the main target for sport fishers is peacock bass. There are several species of peacock bass, the largest and most desired for sport fishing purposes being the tucunaré-açu (Cichla temensis), or speckled peacock bass. These fish strike hard, and fight hard with spectacular jumps. Since they strike lures aggressively and are non-migratory, they are easy to target, as they remain in the same fishing holes year after year.

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