Collective involvement brings record results for the Amazon

Good news for biodiversity conservation: the Amazonian turtle population is growing! According to research published in the journal Nature Sustainability, today there are nine times more turtles born on Amazonian beaches than in 1977.

The research was based on 15 protected beaches on the Juruá River, one of the major tributaries of the Amazon River and the basis of the Middle Juruá Territory Program, coordinated by Sitawi. We spoke with João Vitor Campos e Silva, one of those responsible for the research and for the Study of the Hydrological Regime of the Middle Juruá Basin, to understand how conservation actions in the region, the participation of riverside communities and the incentives for targeted projects impact this growth. Check out the interview:

1) According to research published in Nature Sustainability, today there are nine times more turtles born on the beaches of the Amazon than in 1977. How is the involvement of local populations in the development of sustainable production chains?

Amazonian chelonians have a secular cultural importance for indigenous and non-indigenous riverside communities. Due to high exploitation, populations have suffered a dramatic decline, becoming extinct in many localities.

Community protection of nesting beaches has been largely responsible for the chelonian population recovery. On protected beaches human predation on eggs and females is only 2%. On unprotected beaches predation reaches 99%.

It is worth mentioning that it is not just chelonians that benefit from protection, but a varied group that make up the Amazonian biodiversity, including alligators, large catfish, iguanas, migratory birds and even invertebrates.

The importance of community protection is a pattern that is repeated for virtually all management activities. Community protagonism is really a central element for the ecological sustainability of production chains.

2) What is the impact of this baby boom for the conservation of Amazonian species?

The impact of high offspring production is the chance to recover populations. The important thing is that the entry of offspring into the adult population is always greater than the exit of adult individuals, slaughtered by consumption.

3) The Middle Juruá Territory Program has supported the conservation of turtles through the training of Volunteer Environmental Agents and actions to support beach surveillance. What is the importance of institutional support like this for the development of production chains in the region?

Local organizations and rural communities have worked hard to ensure the continuity of the program year after year. Therefore, support of this nature is fundamental, as it guarantees the maintenance of the activity. But it's also important to stress that we need more enduring sources of funding that can actually increase the financial payoff of this program. A good prospect lies in this experiment in handling chicks, which can really consolidate a long-term income opportunity.

4) The TMJ Program also foresees Studies of the Hydrological Regime of the Middle Juruá Basin for the next 22 months. How can this study contribute to the conservation of chelonians?

In this work we will have the opportunity to evaluate the impact of extreme events on chelonian reproduction. What happens when the river dries up too quickly? What is the importance of large floods? These are fundamental questions for the conservation of chelonians that will be addressed in this work. In addition, we will try to estimate the mortality of the chicks due to the rapid and unexpected rise of the rivers. This will be fundamental for us to develop adaptive strategies that mitigate the effects of global changes in this very important resource.

5) In 2018, you received 1st place in the Master and Doctor category of the Young Scientist award, with work on the sustainable management of Pirarucu. How can sustainable value chains conserve biodiversity and promote social development in the region?

The only way to really make progress in the conservation of the Amazon is to create sustainable paths where rural communities are protagonists of the process. Rural communities are fundamental in protecting forests and socio-biodiversity production chains is the best strategy we have to align conservation with rural development.

Chelonian management is part of a broad framework aimed at the sustainable development of the Middle Juruá region, which includes successful production chains such as managing pirarucu, oilseeds and açaí. Community arrangements, in which riverside dwellers are the protagonists in development, have been successfully used in the Amazon region, providing positive and lasting results. Get to know one of the actions of the Middle Juruá Territory Program:

Check out the main results of the survey, carried out and published in the journal Nature Sustainability, at: The article can be accessed at:

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