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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2004  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 315-346

Acai Palm Management in the Amazon Estuary: Course for Conservation or Passage to Plantations?

1 Nature Conservancy, 1510 East Fort Lowell Road, Tucson, Arizona 85719, USA
2 Tetratech, 15 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05602, USA

Correspondence Address:
Stephanie Weinstein
Nature Conservancy, 1510 East Fort Lowell Road, Tucson, Arizona 85719
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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In the lalate 1980s, the acai (Euterpe oleracea) fruit and palmito extraction system of eastern Amazonia was heralded as a promising alternative to deforestation that could simultaneously provide income to rural producers and protect forest integrity. We e tested these claims in ffive communities located along a distance gradient from the lalargest regional market in Belem, Brazil. We e evaluated the market accessibility and management strategies of acai producers, and assessed the im­pacts of management on forest characteristics. In contrast to other NTFP systems, we found that distance to the major market is not a limiting factor for acai sales because throughout the region intermediaries are readily available to transport acai from producer to market. Demand for acai fruit is increasing, leading to intensification of palm management, which results in the conversion of native flfloodplain forests into acai-dominated forests that closely resemble plantations. We e conclude that the acai system is not typical of other NTFP and should not be regarded as a model for merging forest conservation with rural development. However, the increased demand for acai, especially from educated consumers, together with the ease of production and marketing, present an opportunity to develop the acai system into one in which both rural livelihoods and forest integrity are supported.

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