What is so special about the Amazon Charitable Trust? A view from the Chair
May 25 2010
Dr John Hemming, founder of Survival International and Director and Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society for 21 years, is a trustee of so many charities that after his first visit to Xixuaú, we decided to hear from him about his thoughts on the area, and on ACT’s potential.
Our Chair, Dr John Hemming, was a founder of Survival International and Director and Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society for 21 years to 1996, and is a trustee of so many charities that after his first visit to Xixuaú, we decided to hear from him about his thoughts on the area, and on the Amazon Charitable Trust.
“It has been 48 years since I was first in the Amazon, so change has been massive, with huge deforestation and colonisation right around the Southern Amazon. Two inventions have been chiefly responsible: chainsaws, which can level the rainforest at a rate completely impossible with saws and axes, and earthmovers, which enabled thousands of kilometres of roads to be laid through the forest – rapidly followed by settlers, deforestation, and all the other changes. However, the Xixuaú-Xiparina area in the north is more remote, and with the collaboration of the local people, the rainforest has largely been conserved.
The Amazon Charitable Trust is currently a new, small charity, with a hugely energetic managing trustee, Robert Pasley-Tyler. Ultimately we will see how plans pan out for it to develop into a larger, umbrella charity for projects across the Amazon, but the Trust already has three key elements for success in its target area of Xixuau-Xiparina:
Firstly, it is linked to a riverbank or ribeirinho community that is committed to sustainable use of the rainforest. This degree of collective dedication to preserving their area is common in indigenous communities, but rarer in the riverbank communities.
Secondly, we are all hoping that the area will soon be protected as the Lower Rio Branco – Jauaperi Extractive Reserve, or Resex. In this type of reserve, the local people can gather the natural resources they need, can fish, and extract rubber, but the rainforest cannot be cut down or destroyed. Scientific research is also allowed in these reserves.
Thirdly, I hope that these two elements, and the remarkable, remote environment, will create the interest for a research centre to be built in the area. This could draw in scientists from across the region and the world, while providing sustainable employment for local people.”