Brazil: History

Ten percent of the world’s species of plants and animals live in Brazil, and thousands of those species are at risk of extinction.  In order to preserve the habitats of endangered plants and animals, the Associação Amazônia founded the Xixuaú-Xipariná Ecological Reserve, situated on the right hand bank of the Jauaperí River, marks the border between the Brazilian states of Amazonas and Roraima. The Reserve measures 172,000 hectares and is the only private nature reserve of this type in the Brazilian Amazon.

Xixuaú-Xipariná Reserve is a highly important area for rainforest conservation efforts. Located deep in the Amazon jungle, it is extremely isolated, accessible only by a 30-40 hour boat trip from the city of Manaus.  This isolation has helped preserve hundreds of species that are in danger of extinction elsewhere in the Amazon.

Brazilian giant otter, manatees, river dolphin, black caiman, a number of turtle species, snakes like the coral and the anaconda, and a multitude of fish all thrive here. The jungle is also the habitat of monkeys, marmosets, tamanduas, sloths, ocelot, jaguar, tapirs, anteaters, armadillos, peccaries, pacas, and the beautiful birds of the rain forest.

The Reserve’s isolation and lack of electricity leaves the native Caboclo Indians with virtually no access to modern health care, education, and economic opportunities. And preserving the Reserve is critically dependent upon the local people’s ability to lead healthy, prosperous lives in ways that keep the environment whole and flourishing.

In 2002, working with the Associação Amazônia, a group largely composed of indigenous Caboclo Indians, SELF provided solar power and satellite Internet access to the previously non-electrified Reserve. The project was funded by the Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust.

By electrifying the Reserve’s new health clinic, SELF and its partners improved health care for the local people. The solar-powered clinic now has a Sunfrost refrigerator that reliably preserves fragile vaccines and snake bite serums. Solar lights allow for emergency surgical operations to be performed at night.

Scientific research and the cataloging of endangered species in the Reserve are now enhanced by an Internet-connected satellite dish allowing the Reserve staff to stay in close contact with scientific research teams.

At the Reserve’s new school educational opportunities have been enhanced for the local people. Adult education classes are held in the evenings thanks to solar-powered compact florescent lighting, and the solar powered, Internet-connected computers provide access to distance learning programs.

Economic opportunities have been enhanced with the new access to communications, coordinating eco-tourism and e-commerce ventures.

In 2002, SELF installed solar systems to provide power and satellite connections to the people living in the reserve. Over the years, the reserve has drawn increased scientific and eco-tourist interest, so SELF returned to Brazil in May 2011 to install new solar powered lighting in five newly built guest houses, or malocas, used by visitors. By using solar energy, the lights are eco-friendly and help to protect the pristine silence of the rainforest.

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