Participatory Conservation and Local Knowledge in the Amazon Várzea: The Pirarucu Management Scheme in Mamirauá

  • Leandro Castello
  • João Paulo Viana
  • Miguel Pinedo-Vasquez


Participatory natural resource management has become the most used approach to the conservation of the Amazonian várzea. But poor understanding of the process of integration of local knowledge in such conservation schemes impedes further progress. We contribute to this subject by analyzing some of the challenges of one of the most significant schemes of participatory conservation based on local knowledge in the várzea. The scheme relies largely on the knowledge and skills of local fishers, and it has been shown to be very effective at promoting the recovery of previously overexploited populations of the fish pirarucu (Arapaima spp). Our analysis shows that the prevailing practice of simply including local communities in the management process is not sufficient to promote resource conservation. It also is necessary to (i) identify individuals of the communities that possess acute knowledge of natural resources, (ii) develop cost-effective approaches to assess local knowledge in a systematic fashion, and (iii) monitor the effectiveness of participatory schemes at promoting resource conservation. We suggest that conservation and development organizations need to develop further their current practices with the knowledge of local inhabitants, if that knowledge is to contribute further to the conservation of the várzea.


Local knowledge Participatory conservation Resource management Overexploitation Sustainable development reserves Livelihoods 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leandro Castello
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • João Paulo Viana
    • 2
    • 4
  • Miguel Pinedo-Vasquez
    • 5
  1. 1.College of Environmental Science and ForestryState University of New YorkSyracuseUSA
  2. 2.Instituto de Desenvolvimento Sustentável MamirauáTeféBrazil
  3. 3.The Woods Hole Research CenterFalmouthUSA
  4. 4.Diretoria do Programa Nacional de Conservação da BiodiversidadeMinistério do Meio AmbienteBrasíliaBrazil
  5. 5.Center for Environmental Research and ConservationColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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