Riverside communities are already facing the impacts of climate change in the Amazon, with floods and droughts

Residents seek to mitigate effects with actions to keep the forest standing and conserve biodiversity; PTMJ supports some of these initiatives

Riverside communities living in the Middle Juruá region, in Amazonas, seek initiatives to mitigate the effects of climate change, already reflected in the daily lives of these forest dwellers. The actions developed in the region also contribute to this objective, such as selective garbage collection, awareness programs to keep the forest standing and conserve biodiversity and the increasingly intense participation in sustainable management projects, such as the pirarucu, and of monitoring for the preservation of species, such as chelonians.

“Climate change has become very frequent here in the region. What was supposed to be a rainy season is now a sunny season. And in the dry months we see rain. This is very noticeable, and we have to readapt to these changes”, says Maria da Cunha Figueiredo, resident of the São Raimundo community, in the Extractive Reserve (RESEX) Médio Juruá.

This year, several Amazonian rivers, such as the Negro and the Juruá, registered historic floods, flooding cities and communities. In the dry season, between September and October, the drought punished plantations and made navigation difficult in several stretches of the river. Another relevant factor in this context is the increase in fires in the region, due to human actions and illegal activities, which directly contributes to deforestation and accelerates climate change. In August alone, there were 28,000 fires in the Amazon and another 16,700 in the following month, according to the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe).

“We have tried to adapt. We seek to protect the forest, but we imagine that worse things may be happening because people are not aware that they need to stop deforesting and polluting. They imagine that the forest is always there, but it is not. You need to take care of it”, adds Maria, who, in addition to being a volunteer environmental agent, is the coordinator of leadership training in the Jovem Lutando Pela Caminhada movement (JLPC), a group that works on environmental issues in communities.

Maria was also one of the residents of the region who participated in the work to investigate climate impacts on the way of life of the populations. The result was the publication of the study ?Climate Changes and its impacts on the socio-biodiversity of the Juruá River?, carried out within the Medium Juruá Territory Program (PTMJ), during the first phase (between 2017 and early 2021). 240 residents of 27 communities were interviewed

Read the study here: https://info.sitawi.net/mudancasclimaticasriojurua.

Now, the PTMJ is in its second phase, supporting initiatives that mainly serve the three basic pillars: sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity conservation and social cohesion. In addition to the support from USAID/Brazil and Natura, the PTMJ has the Plataforma Parceiros pela Amazônia (PPA) as a strategic partner and the participation of the Bioversity/CIAT Alliance.

Coordination remains with the Sitawi. Six local community organizations (ASPROC, ASMAMJ, AMECSARA, AMARU, CODAEMJ and ASPODEX) are among those implementing the actions. It will also count on ICMBio, State Secretariat for the Environment (SEMA) and OPAN.

Economic impacts

The manager of RESEX Médio Juruá and resident of the São Raimundo community, Manuel Silva da Cunha, also mentions the economic losses that residents face with climate change.

“This year we had a deluge on the Juruá river, never seen before in history. This imbalance is direct in people's lives. For example, there are rubber tappers who lost almost 80 rubber trees on a single road. That's ten kilos of rubber a day. The subsistence swiddens were all submerged in the water, needing to be rebuilt. The staff stopped collecting seeds, carried by the waters. It is the equivalent of R$ 2 million, less money in the pockets of almost a thousand families in the Middle Juruá”, says Cunha.

The manager compares tackling climate change to a war. “Traditional communities are frontline soldiers. And with a difference: nobody has a gun, we don't have a pen in our hands to change initiatives and contain climate change. Traditional communities live in the environment and from the environment. And, as any imbalance is in the environment, it totally changes life”, he adds.

The resident of the Bauana community Maria Francisca de Aquino do Carmo remembers that, when exchanging experiences with people from previous generations, the stories were different. “When I talk to my mother, she says: ?In my day, when I went to the swidden, I could stand the sun until noon. Now we can last until 10 o'clock at the most because the sun is too hot? Then I explain to her and say that it is climate change, the effects.”

For Reginaldo Oliveira dos Santos, production coordinator at the Bauana Community Based Company (EBC) and resident of the Bom Jesus community, in the Uacari Sustainable Development Reserve, one of the alternatives is to keep the forest standing and make future generations aware of the importance of biodiversity . “We are aware that it is all man who is degrading nature. Those of us who live here feel the effect of all this and continue to fight to keep the forest standing.”

Text: Luciana Constantino

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