The Sustainable Development Reserve (RDS for its abbreviation in Portuguese) Iratapuru was recommended by the Brazilian Ministry of Environment as a suitable site for a GSI pilot project. In March 2008, the GSI Staff and Steering Committee agreed upon the inclusion of RDS Iratapuru as a third pilot site for the Guiana Shield Initiative.
The RDS Iratapuru was created in 1997 and covers 806.184 hectares in the southern part of the Amapá state. It is located between the Tumucumaque Mountains National Park and the Extractive Reserve of Río Cajari, and is thus considered an area of great importance in regard to the Amapá Biodiversity Corridor. This corridor, promoted by the Amapá State, is a concept to combine conservation and environmental preservation with economic and social development, and thus promoting an improved livelihood for the local inhabitants.
A Sustainable Development Reserve is created to promote conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Brazil’s National System of Conservation Units (SNUC) allows families to live around and within this kind of conservation units, for sustainable exploration of the existing natural resources (flora and fauna). In the RDS Iratapuru, the inhabitants explore the Brazil Nut and other species with commercial value, like the Andiroba, the Copaiba and the Camu-Camu. Most of the RDS is well preserved and contains a large variety of animals, guaranteeing the existence of rare and endangered species like the Giant Anteater, the Giant Otter and the Jaguar. Existing vegetation species typical for the region include the chestnut tree, as well as several types of mahogany.
The area included in the RDS Rio Iratapuru is very representative of riverine forest ecosystems across the Guiana Shield Eco-region that are populated by local communities. Its use as an extractive reserve is representative of many such units in Amapá and Para, Brazil and sustainable use areas elsewhere in the Guiana Shield. The communities that live in and around the RDS Iratapuru are involved in the extraction of the Brazil Nut, which with the implementation of a factory, will be transformed into oil, flour and principally biscuit. There are about 39 families from five local communities that participate in the RDS. The community of São Francisco do Iratapuru operates as the guardian, user and main beneficiary of the RDS.
A management plan for sustainable use of natural resources is under preparation. Five percent of the area can be used for extractive activities, including commercial exploitation of new forest products. This could include agreement with cosmetic enterprise (e.g. Natura www.natura.net) to access genetic resources. This arrangement is intended to lessen the pressure from external agents and offer greater efficacy in biodiversity protection. Also, there ought to be an increase in community consciousness about their role, the environmental and, an expected improvement in the quality of life for cooperating individuals.