Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity in Brazilian Hot Spots

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Abstract

Hot spots in Brazil include a variety of ecosystems, such as mangroves, forests, and the Brazilian savannah, locally called cerrado. Some of the rural populations in these hot spots are the caiçaras in SE Atlantic Forest coast, and the caboclos in the Amazon. In this study, we are concerned especially with the knowledge of caiçaras and caboclos, associated with practices that might have implications for management. Data were gathered through interviews with adults at the various communities studied, and through systematic observations, including samples of fishing trips and the mapping of fishing spots used in the Atlantic Forest coast. The use of resources from the surrounding vegetation includes collection of plants, cultivated fruit gardens, the swidden system, and a careful and managed extraction of fibres. Among animal resources, food taboos seem to be useful practices that might contribute to the maintenance of local natural resources. Potential management practices should be locally developed, such as the informal division of fishing spots in Atlantic Forest sites, and the maintenance of the diversity of cassava varieties in both the Atlantic Forest and Amazonian areas.