Ribeirinhos already face 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 pirarucu, and monitoring system for the preservation of species, such as chelonians.

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

This year, several Amazonian rivers, such as the Negro and Juruá, registered historic flooding, flooding cities and communities. In the dry season, between September and October, the drought punished plantations and made navigation in several sections of the river difficult. Another relevant factor in this context is the increase in fires in the region, resulting from 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 records in the following month, according to the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe).

“We have been trying to adapt. We seek to protect the forest, but we imagine that worse things could 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. It needs to be taken care of”, adds Maria, who, in addition to being a volunteer environmental agent, is the coordinator of leadership training at the Youth Fighting for the Walk (JLPC) movement, 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 population's way of life. The result was the publication of the study “Climate Change and its impacts on the socio-biodiversity of the Juruá River”, carried out within the Juruá Middle 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 meet 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 the implementers of the actions. It will also have ICMBio, the 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 cites the economic losses that residents face with climate change.

“This year we had a deluge on this Juruá river, I had never seen it 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 pounds of rubber a day. The subsistence swiddens all sank to the bottom of 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 front-line soldiers. And with one difference: no one has a weapon, we don't have a pen in our hands to change initiatives and contain climate change. Traditional communities live in the environment and the environment. And, as any imbalance is in the environment, it totally changes life”, he adds.

Maria Francisca de Aquino do Carmo, a resident of the Bauana community, recalls that, when exchanging experiences with people from previous generations, the stories were different. “When I talk to my mother, she says: 'In my time, when I went to the fields, I could stand the sun until noon. Now we can last until 10 am at most because the sun is too hot'. Then I explain to her and say it's 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. We who live here feel the effects of all this and we continue to fight to keep the forest standing.”

Text: Luciana Constantino

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