sustainable development reserve

Participatory approaches to natural resource conservation in the Brazilian Amazon

In this project, the LSE (UK) and UEA (Brazil) will carry out joint research looking into the nature of participatory management and how communities influence decision-making that affects key aspects of their lives

This is a two-years (2017-2019) Newton Fund Institutional Links joint research project between the London School of Economics (LSE) and the State University of Amazonas (UEA) with funds from the Newton Fund – Brazil, part of the British Council, Fundação Amazonas Sustentável (FAS) and Schneider Electric 2016 call.


sustainable development reserve

Community Pagodão, Rio Negro Sustainable Development Reserve, Amazonas. Photo by Grace Iara Souza. 


Protected (conservation) areas in the Brazilian Amazon are home to a large rural population, which have few other means of livelihoods support. Conservation areas enjoy protection under Brazilian law but they are under constant threat from outside commercial interests such as logging and fishing, thus threatening the livelihoods of local forest communities that depend on these natural resources for their survival. An effective system of participatory management will reduce their vulnerability, facilitate more effective resource protection through local vigilance and promote the long-term sustainability of the forest ecosystem in the state of Amazonas. Not only will it help promote local development based on sustainable resource use but also it will directly strengthen the social welfare of local communities affected. 

In this project, the LSE (UK) and UEA (Brazil) will carry out joint research looking into the nature of participatory management and how communities influence decision-making that affects key aspects of their lives such as livelihoods diversity, production systems for non-timber forest products (NTFPs), use of traditional knowledge, participatory learning and local technology. The study will assess current participatory methodologies that underpin the network of protected areas administrated by the Sustainable Amazonas Foundation (FAS) of 16 reserves totally 16 million hectares, home to 40,000 river dwellers in 470 communities in the state of Amazonas. 

Established in 2007, FAS has carried out an integrated conservation and development programme based on local community participation. This has affected decisions about the allocation of income generation projects, health and education infrastructure provision and Bolsa Floresta, a system of compensatory payments for environmental service provision by communities. 


1. To create an analytical framework to assess the effectiveness of current procedures for promoting systems of participatory management for protected areas under FAS; 

2. To evaluate the impact of these processes of participatory management on local livelihoods; 

3. To enhance the impact of participatory practices as a result of the study. 


The Research Team


research team

Dr Charles Palmer (LSE), Liane Lima (FAS), Tifany Farias (UEA), Dr Vilma de Araújo (UEA), Alexandre Godeau (UEA), Dr Edilza Laray de Jesus (UEA), Dr Grace Iara Souza (LSE), Catarina França (UEA). Nov 2017. 

charlie palmer 2019 Cropped

Dr Charles Palmer

Dr Palmer is the project’s Principal Investigator (PI). He is based at the LSE Department of Geography and Environment since 2009. He holds a BA in Biological Sciences from Oxford University, an MSc in Environmental and Resource Economics from University College London and a PhD in Agricultural Economics from the University of Bonn, Germany. He primarily works in the fields of environmental and development economics, has published widely, and has worked for a number of international organisations including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in New York, and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Indonesia. Dr Palmer’s research focuses on forest management and land-use in tropical countries in Africa, Central and South America. 

Dr Edilza Laray de Jesus

Dr Edilza Laray de Jesus

Dr de Jesus is the leader investigator for the Brazilian team. She is member of the UEA’s Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Programme in Human Sciences (PPGICH), teaching courses on tourism, geography, and pedagogy since 2009. She is also the leader of a research group on Interdisciplinary Studies of Amazonian Culture (NEICAM) at the same institution. She holds a Bachelor degree in Geography, an MSc in Environmental Education and a PhD in Education.

grace souzaDr Grace Iara Souza

Dr Souza is the Research Officer, responsible for the overall management of the project, particularly the liaison between all its stakeholders in the UK and Brazil. She is based at the LSE Department of Social Policy since 2017. She holds a BA in International Relations from the Laureate International University in São Paulo, an MA in Environmental Politics and Globalisation and a PhD in Political Ecology, both from King’s College London. For her PhD thesis, Dr Souza has conducted intensive fieldwork with riverine communities, protected area managers and NGO workers in the Lower River Negro region, where this research is taking place, and in the Brazilian Federal Capital. Her research focuses on human security and political ecologies of development, conservation and peasant societies, with particular interest on historical invisibility, agency, and forms of resistance, power dynamics, social policies and identities in Brazil and Latin America more broadly. Before coming to the LSE Grace has held teaching positions at SOAS and King’s College London. She is a Fellow of the High Education Academy and the co-founder of CLOSER, a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional research group on Brazilian socio-environmental research. 

Alexandre Godeau FerreiraAlexandre Godeau Ferreira

Alexandre is one of the scholarhip holders for the project. He is on his final year undergraduate in Tourism also at UEA. Previously, he has lived in the United Kindgom for two years. Upon his return to Brazil, he worked for the christian charity World Vision for three years, taking part in philanthropic missions to riverine communites to engage with rural development, environmental education, supporting rural teachers learning, agroecology and citizenship. He is hoping that this project will help building up his research skills to further his academic endevours.   

Catarina Gomes FrançaCatarina Gomes França

Catarina is a scholarship holder for the project. She is on her final year undergraduate course in Geography at UEA. She is training to be an university teacher and she is hoping that this project will help aid her understanding of different types of knowledge and learning, equipping her with first-hand awareness on the cultural and environmental diversity of riverine communities of Amazonas. 
Tifany Montefusco Farias
Tifany Montefusco Farias

Tifany is also a scholarship holder for the project. She is on her 2nd year undergraduate course in Tourism at UEA and is very enthusiast about conducting research with rural communities in Amazonas.  

Gallery of Photos and Activities from the Fieldwork

 XIX Leadership Meeting, FAS, Nov 2017

XI Leadership meetingsize
Community leaders sharing results of the activity tree of problems and tree of solutions

The research team introduced the project during the XIX Leadership Meeting that happened at FAS in Manaus. The aim was to (i) introduce the team, explain the project to all regional representation of protected areas benefited by the Bolsa Floresta Programme and (ii) to collect some preliminary impressions from the leaders about how the programme promotes participatory management. This was also an opportunity to test the tree of problems and solutions methodology. 


Knowledge Exchange and Capacity Building 

Team meeting
Team meeting before fieldwork, UEA

Researchers from the LSE and UEA held meetings prior and after fieldwork in order to discuss theoretical and methodological aspects related to the project. There was also pedagogical exchange between the leading researchers and planning activities with the students. 

sizeCommunity Saracá
Community Saracá, Rio Negro SDR. Photo by Liane Lima.

Dr Grace Iara Souza explaining the focus group activity for residents of the Community Saracá, Rio Negro Sustainable Development Reserve, November 2017.

community pagodao2
Community Pagodão, SDS Puranga Conquista. Photo by Catarina França.

Dr Edilza Laray explaining the fieldwork activity to residents of the Community Pagodão, Puranga Conquista Sustainable Development Reserve, November 2017. 

lse researchers welcome
The LSE researchers were welcomed by Professor Mario Bessa, the Vice Principal, Professor José Augusto Veiga, and Harold M. “Butch” Wright, from the International Relations Office, on an institutional meeting at the State University of Amazonas (UEA). 
sustainable talk1

Dr Laray, Dr Palmer and Dr Souza discussed their respective researches on public policies in protected areas with the wider community at the FAS Sustainable Talk on 23 November 2017.