Alexandre Arthur Schelbauer – u5319773
I would like to talk a little about a place I knew last year in Brazil, in a cross country fieldtrip with my home university. But first some about the history of the place: The Serigal is a latex extraction area (latex been a product of Hevea brasiliensis, a Brazilian native tree), done in a very low impact way, as the trees are already on the forest, with just the need of small trails connecting one site to the other. The place was the focus of one of the major conflicts over the preservation of the forest and its biodiversity versus the agriculture and logging of the Amazon forest. The area was marked to be completely cut down for pastures and plantations, but the local communities (indigenous and local people, called peoples of the forest), under the leadership of Chico Mendes (one of the most important Brazilian icons for the protection of Amazon forest) rose and with pacifist blockades and public protest, brought the debate to the public and started in the mind of the Brazilian population the idea of nature conservation. Sadly, Chico was killed, but the people he inspired and his ideas lived on, and now the Seringal (the common name for latex extraction areas) is protected and declared a reserve, with absolutely no exploitation of the wood resource and land conversion.
My visit was in June of last year, and we get the chance for the first time to get in contact with the real Amazon forest, with lectures about how the area is managed to keep the human interference to a minimum, thus becoming an example to other areas such as this. As source of income to keep the area in its natural state, there is a small hotel with guided tours to the forest, so people can get close to one of the most diverse tropical forest in world. There are also tree top trails, and obviously, the extraction of latex. There is also a small extraction of seeds, for handcrafted items, and the Brazilian nut (Bertholletia excelsa).
The area has one of the most abundant fauna and flora I have ever seen, with a variety of monkeys, parrots, macaws, snakes, insects (fun fact: there is an ant with a bite that is said to be as painful as a gunshot), caimans, and an incredible plant life. I would strongly advise if you ever go to Brazil, to visit the place!