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First experiences with adaptive co-management in Para, Brazilian Amazon

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Adaptive Co-Management (ACM) is an integrative approach for implementing sustainable forest management, based on a main hypothesis, that is: if there is a high degree of collaboration between stakeholders combined with a high adaptiveness of management systems, the result will be a higher degree of human well-being and ecological sustainability. A worldwide network under the umbrella of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) is engaged in researching the potential and methodological aspects related to ACM. Financed by CIFOR and the German Development Cooperation (GTZ), an ACM team started to work on ACM in Para, in 2000. ACM pilot activities in Pará were carried out in three sites, each reflecting different realities of communities established in the Eastern Amazon region. Research was focused on the concept of Collaborative Diagnostic Studies (CDS) as an opportunity to replace externally driven background studies which are important for documentation and impact monitoring, for a collaborative evaluation of an expert defined set of criteria and indicators for assessing sustainability (C&I). The research considered the definition of a set of C&I suitable for discussion with local actors, the test of strategies to accomplish CDS and the elaboration of a reporting system to document the ACM process. According to the central hypothesis of ACM, the defined set of C&I was structured in three categories: collaboration, adaptive management of natural resources and impacts/conditions. A variety of participatory methods were tested, described and evaluated in relation to their contribution to ACM. Finally an ACM database system was defined, based on reports for (1) evaluation of C&I, (2) documentation of activities, (3) description of methods and (4) evaluation of the ACM process. Pilot studies showed that CDS are not suitable as a substitute for background studies. Special efforts have to be undertaken so as to diminish the danger of external dominance and to ensure the participation of local actors. The pilot studies also confirmed the need for a systematic and well structured documentation of the complex and dynamic processes related to ACM. Pilot studies also showed the high potential of ACM for implementing sustainable forest management. Due to the promising results, it is recommended to focus ACM research in Brazil on work shared with Local Researcher Teams. In order to establish ACM as a viable development strategy in the Amazon region, an intensive collaboration with existing community projects is desired.

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