Brazilian tribes look to tourism to save rainforest
A recent workshop in Brazil finalised plans for tours and tourism infrastructure as part of an overall plan to overcome poverty and help keep their forests intact. Targeting the Surui and Parantin people, the planning and training sessions took place last month in the Mamiraua Lodge, one of Brazil’s leading eco-tourism destinations based in an Amazonian reserve of the same name.
As part of a long term project involving participatory development, business plans are being prepared by the indigenous communities involved. They are expected to be completed by July this year.
The potential to use eco-cultural tourism as an important element of community income portfolios is not restricted to Brazilian Amazon communities. Other countries, such as Peru and New Guinea have also tried this route, often with relative success.
One Asháninka community in the Peruvian rainforest has been working with eco-cultural tourism off and on for the last 25 years. Visitors have benefitted from the marvel of this area’s natural capital as well as close contact in small groups with local community members.
Such projects, however, need to be developed with the full consent and participation of the local indigenous communities The tourism packages also need to be sensitively designed to benefit local culture, biodiversity and the community economies.