TRF Sustainable Options

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Sustainable development options for role play(see also PPt and role cards) - designed for bright Y10

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TRF Sustainable Options

  1. 1. Options for sustainable development in tropical rainforest around Maués, Amazonas, Brazil (1) Butterfly farming Similar schemes successful in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Madagascar – not many in Amazon so far. Only butterflies bred on the farms are allowed to be sold – it is illegal to sell wild butterflies. Getting butterflies to breed in captivity is not easy, so expert help would be needed to get the venture up and running – though installation of computers with satellite internet would make this easier (funding for this?) Rare species such as the owl butterfly (pictured, right) can fetch $500 or more from American and Japanese collectors. PNG makes around $500 000 / year from butterfly exports. (2) Harvesting guaraná (worra-na) and açaí (assay-eye) fruit Maués is known as the ‘home of guaraná‘. Guarana grows as bushes in natural clearings, and has been harvested by the Maué Indians for 100s of years, to be used to make a very caffeine-rich, energy-giving drink – like a low-sugar, natural Red Bull. The Maué also use it as a pain-killer. Since the 1970s guaraná has been used to make a fizzy drink which in Brazil is as popular as Coke. With the growth in the energy drinks market, guaraná is increasingly being exported to the USA and Europe (for example the energy drink ‘V’ has it as a main ingredient). Açaí has until recently been less well-known outside the Amazon, but recent research has shown it to have similar properties to guaraná, as well as potentially lowering the chances of cancer and heart-disease. It grows naturally a few hundred miles further East near Belem, but preliminary trials have shown that it grows equally well around Maués. Both plants fruit for about a month in the wild, but by cultivating it in small farms as well as harvesting the wild plants, a year-round supply should be possible. All photos creative commons from www.flickr.com or used with permission from www.mongabay.com
  2. 2. (3) Agroforestry Agroforestry is a form of agriculture that seeks to copy nature more carefully than large-scale commercial monoculture (i.e. growing one crop) or cattle ranching. Rather than clearing the rainforest completely (clear felling), only the older larger trees are felled, and shrubs, other food plants (such as vanilla) and flowers are grown in the clearings. Many western universities and aid organisations are keen to support agroforestry projects and study their successes and failures, in order to try and introduce it to more rainforest locations around the world. (4) Ecotourism Many forms of tourism are called ecotourism, like snorkelling holidays in the Red Sea, or visiting the Galapagos Islands to see its unique animals. But true ecotourism is defined as “Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people”. Other rainforest areas have benefitted enormously from ecotourism, e.g. Costa Rica. Maués is about an hour’s flight from Manaus, which has connecting flights, including to USA – so it is relatively accessible, yet right in the heart of the Amazon. The Maué Indians live in settlements an hour’s canoe journey from Maués. They are famous for their ‘stinging ant glove’ ceremony, where boys prove they are ready to become a man by wearing a glove full of highly poisonous bullet ants while the villagers dance and party to celebrate the boy’s coming of age. But there are lots of questions to think about before deciding to push ahead with ecotourism, e.g. • To tap into the international market, people will need to learn English – only 2 or 3 people in Maués speak English at present (or guides will need to be brought in from outside the area). • Do the Maué Indians want to be a ‘tourist attraction’? • How do you ensure that the people visiting are sensitive to the local culture and environment? • To what extent do you provide proper ‘western’ facilities like air-conditioning and flushing toilets to encourage visitors? All photos creative commons from www.flickr.com or used with permission from www.mongabay.com

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