Amazon community turns from logging to conservation

By CGTN's Paulo Cabral 

There a riverside community on the banks of the Amazon in Brazil, which may have a solution to break the cycle of endless logging in the region to make income.
Roberto Mendonca was born and has lived all his life in a Tumbira Riverside jungle community in the Amazon. At the age of 12, he began logging just like his father did before him. It was dangerous and illegal but for over 20 years, cutting down the forest was his way of life and virtually the sole source of income for his community.
"Just a few years ago, about 90 percent of the people in this area were engaged in logging. So, just imagine about 500 people cutting one tree per day for years and years. That's a lot of trees!" said Roberto Mendonca, a former logger. "At the time I didn't really understand that this was bad. All I knew was that I was surviving doing the only thing I knew how to do."
A man carries a log from a tree felled in the Amazon rainforest for transportation to a mill. /VCG Photo‍

A man carries a log from a tree felled in the Amazon rainforest for transportation to a mill. /VCG Photo‍

Around ten years ago, things began to change after the area was declared a sustainable development reserve. Anti-logging surveillance increased and people were encouraged, trained and funded to engage in sustainable activities.
One of those activities is hospitality. Roberto is no longer a logger – he runs a restaurant and guesthouse for tourists. Researchers and people from nearby communities are his regular clients. He also works as a jungle guide.
There are many social and development needs in the Amazon Region of Brazil. One strategy to make this development sustainable is to help people here manage these vast resources for the long run.
Logging in the Amazon Basin /VCG Photo

Logging in the Amazon Basin /VCG Photo

One NGO runs sustainability programs in 16 nature reserves in the state of Amazonas, encouraging community meetings where locals discuss how to increase timber production in a way that doesn't threaten the survival of the jungle.
"Our strategy is to make forests worth more standing than cut down. That's our main strategy," said Virgiliano Vianna, the superintendent of Sustainable Amazonas Foundation. "People are not stupid. They cut the forest because they see that as a way to improve their livelihoods. And we say 'well, instead of cutting the forest, let's make your life better by using more intelligently the resources.'" 
There are many needs to be balanced in the Amazon jungle. People are looking for ways to improve their lives but the challenge remains in how to create a better present without threatening the future.