First initiatives and organizations of the inhabitants of the rain forest - extraction reserves

In 1985 the "First National Meeting of Seringueiros of the Amazon" took place. The seringueiros demanded;

  1. a development policy that meets the interests of the seringueiros and respects their rights,
  2. the dispossession of the former "Seringais"(rubber-extraction areas) and preservation of these areas,
  3. health posts and schools in all these areas,
  4. a pension scheme for the "rubber-soldiers" and an agrarian reform.

They founded the CNS - National Counsel of Seringueiros.
At this meeting the concept of the "extraction reserves" was discussed for the first time; a government-owned conservation area which should be controlled by the communities of the seringueiros and other traditional inhabitants of the forest. They would make a sustainable use of the rain forest and guarantee its integrity. In return they would have control over the produce from the forest. The union leader and environmental activist Francisco Alves Mendes Filho from Xapuri/Acre, better known as Chico Mendes, played an important role in the development of this proposal.
After the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank under the pressure of international environmental organizations and the CNS had canceled the credits for highway construction in the Amazon, the Brazilian government had to reassess its development policy and in 1988 entered into negotiations about extraction reserves with the CNS. In Acre the first reservation "Alto Juruá" emerged. In 1989 the representatives of the CNS and the "Union of the Indian Nations" (at that time informal indigenous organization) met in Rio Branco for the "First Meeting of the Peoples of the Forest". It led to the "Declaration of the Peoples of the Forest" , expressing the wish of the inhabitants of the rain forest to have their living space preserved.
In 1990 the "general decree for the extraction reserves" (nr 98.897/90) was issued in Brazil, which was the legal base for future reserves. Today, there are many extraction reserves in Brazil, the biggest of them being "Alto Juruá" and "Chico Mendes" in Acre. The area of the "Alto Jurua" reserve is1,265,465 acres with 6000 inhabitants, the area of "Chico Mendes" is 2,441,425 acres with 1250 inhabitants...


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