The Brazilian Government has created an important protected area in Amazonia that will safeguard both iconic wildlife such as jaguars, giant otters and other species as well as the livelihoods of people who depend on natural resources. The Baixo Rio Branco-Jauaperi Extractive Reserve was announced last month as part of the country’s celebration of World Environment Day.

Covering a total area of over 581,000 hectares (2,200 square miles), the new reserve will protect the staggering biodiversity of an important site where the Branco and Negro Rivers meet. 

“We commend the Brazilian Government for making the Baixo Rio Branco-Jauaperi Extractive Reserve a reality and for securing a future for the traditional communities who depend on the natural resources of the region’s forests and rivers,” said Carlos Durigan, Director of WCS’s Brazil Program.

This region is an important site for conservation of threatened species like Giant South American river turtle (Podocnemis expansa), pink river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis), giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis), jaguar (Panthera onca) among many others. Baixo Rio Branco-Jauaperi Extractive Reserve also has enormous potential as a site for sustainable fisheries for indigenous villages. The local abundance of tucunaré, or peacock bass (Cichla spp.) means that the reserve could also support limited sport fishing as well.

An extractive reserve is a type of protected area where conservation of biodiversity is balanced with the sustainable use of natural resources by local communities. In Brazil, the creation process for an extractive reserve begins with a request from a traditional community or social group, which began in 2001 for Baixo Rio Branco-Jauaperi started.

Support from the Rio Negro Network, a consortium of NGOs led by Fundação Vitória Amazônica, Instituto Socioambiental, Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas, Federação das Organizações Indígenas do Rio Negro, Serviço de Cooperação com o Povo Yanomami, WWF Brazil and WCS Brazil, was crucial to the establishment of Baixo Rio Branco-Jauaperi.

WCS has supported the creation of the reserve since 2013 by working closely with Brazilian government agencies, other NGOs, and local communities.