Current situation

The Lower Amazon region refers to the northwest quarter of the state of Pará and includes 13 municipalities most of which are located along the Amazon River, the focus of settlement until the 1970s. In many ways, the Lower Amazon region is a microcosm of trends in Brazil with significant representation of most of the major Amazon stakeholder groups, Indigenous and traditional groups, colonists, commercial grain farmers, ranchers and loggers.

The rate of deforestation in the region is fairly consistent with the broader trend of declining Amazon deforestation. In the Lower Amazon deforestation declined by 80%, from 700 km2 in 1998 to 137 km2 in 2014. The decrease in deforestation in the region can only partly be attributed to increased government monitoring and enforcement, and market pressures have little impact on producers in the region. Consequently, the situation is fragile, as there is no evidence that there are mechanisms in place to ensure continuous reductions or even to maintain current deforestation rates. 

Additionally, fisheries play a central role in the livelihoods of riverine peoples throughout the Amazon, providing the main source of animal protein as well as cash for household expenses. With the development of commercial fisheries in the 1970s and 1980s, pressure on the Amazon’s fish resources intensified. Concerned with the depletion of local fish stocks, floodplain communities all along the Amazon River developed agreements to regulate fishing in local floodplain lakes. Beginning in the 1990s floodplain communities, civil society organizations, and government agencies worked together to make these agreements the basis for a regional fisheries co-management policy. And while much progress has been made, the resulting co-management system has disintegrated in recent years, due to minimal government support for enforcement and the absence of policies for sustainably managing floodplain fisheries. 


Our strategy

Lower Amazon floodplain lakes managed under the community co-management system are 60% more productive than unmanaged lakes. Photo: David McGrath

Lower Amazon floodplain lakes managed under the community co-management system are 60% more productive than unmanaged lakes. Photo: David McGrath

The “Territorial Performance System (TPS)” is a strategy for driving large-scale transitions to low-emission rural development (LED-R) through bottom-up, multi-stakeholder processes that build a positive, development-oriented agenda to reduce deforestation and over-fishing while improving well-being. The TPS approach is designed to align public policies and markets to favor the transition to LED-R and deliver performance-based incentives to producers, communities and companies who are reducing deforestation. STA partner Earth Innovation Institute (EII) is working with Sapopema, a local non-profit, to build a TPS in the Lower Amazon that:

  • is governed by a multi-stakeholder body for negotiating targets;
  • sets time-bound deforestation targets (through Sustainable Forest Pacts);
  • elaborates a regional development plan for achieving targets, develops institutional arrangements for coordinating implementation of the TPS Plan; and
  • tracks progress towards targets through an online monitoring platform, to be housed at the Federal University of Western Pará.

In the Lower Amazon, EII and partners seek to integrate community fisheries into sustainable national & international supply chains through a TPS approach. This work follows the general process described above. Through a multi-stakeholder process the main groups within the fisheries sector will negotiate a sustainable fisheries pact with specific targets and timelines, a plan for achieving targets, a governance structure for implementing the sustainable fisheries plan and monitoring framework to provide timely information on progress in achieving targets for the sustainable management of Lower Amazon fisheries. Through this process EII and partners seek to create regional conditions that support the sustainable development of Lower Amazon floodplain fisheries, increasing incomes and improving livelihoods while conserving floodplain ecosystems and the ecological services they provide.


What We've Achieved

  • Regional Conference, “Fisheries Development on the Lower Amazon Floodplain”, was held October 14th & 15th in Santarém Pará, and brought together over 140 participants from 27 organizations representing fishers, NGOs, universities, private sector and government. Conference resulted in the “Letter from Santarém in Defense of Lower Amazon Artisanal Fisheries,” and agreements with government institutions to reverse recent policy decisions, resolve floodplain land tenure issues, and support effective partnerships for the co-management of Lower Amazon fisheries.
  • Conducted initial phase of multi-stakeholder process to negotiate a Lower Amazon Pact for Sustainable Fisheries and construct a regional plan to achieve objectives and targets defined in this Pact through the participatory management of floodplain aquatic and terrestrial resources.
  • Launched institutional partnership for regional monitoring system involving the Santarém-based NGO Sapopema, the Federal University of Western Pará (UFOPA), and MOPEBAM (Fishers’ Movement of the Lower Amazon).


Coordinating partners

STA partner: Earth Innovation Institute

STA partner: Earth Innovation Institute

Sociedade para a Pesquisa e Protecao do Meio Ambiente

Sociedade para a Pesquisa e Protecao do Meio Ambiente

Universidad Federal do Oeste do Pará

Universidad Federal do Oeste do Pará

Contact: David McGrath, dmcgrath (@) earthinnovation (dot) org