Deposition: Indigenous special use zone in Matupiri State Park (AM)

Sergio Sakagawa 1, Henrique Pereira dos Santos & Stancik2, Juliane Franzen3

1Chief of Matupiri State Park from May 2010 to May 2015, Biologist, Msc in Protected Area Management. Instituto Nacional de Pesquisa da Amazônia-INPA, email:

2 PhD, Universidade Federal do Amazonas-UFAM, email:


Respect and coexistence as allies of conservation

The Context of the Matupiri State Park

Matupiri State Park (AM) – PAREST Matupiri was created with an approximate area of 513,747 hectares by means of State Decree No. 28,424 of 27 March 2009, issued by the Executive Branch of the State of Amazonas. It is a full protection conservation area strategically created along with another five sustainable use conservation areas through the financial support of the National Department of Infrastructure and Transport – DNIT. These areas were deemed crucial to shield important forest regions located in highway BR-319 against the impacts generated by the revitalization of this highway, which will provide a road corridor connecting the North region to the rest of the country. Read more about this State Park (PAREST) and its ecological attributes here

According to its study of creation (AMAZONAS, 2006), the main factors that justified the selection of the category 'Park' for the creation of the conservation area were the nonexistence of residents inside it and the presence of complex Amazonian plains, extremely peculiar environments with little representation in the State System of Conservation Areas of Amazonas – SEUC-AM (Supplementary Law No. 53 dated 5 June 5 2007).As PAREST Matupiri exerts strong influence upon its neighboring areas, once it is surrounded by four State Conservation Areas of Sustainable Use (RDS Igapó-Acu, RDS Matupiri, RDS of the Madeira River and RDS of the Amapá River), by the Jenipapo Argo-extractive Settlement Project – PAE Jenipapo and by the Cunhã-Sapucaia Indigenous Land – TICS, it assumes an utmost importance regarding its ecological role for being a source of generation, maintenance and reproduction of natural resources for the human populations living in these neighboring areas.

 Sergio Sakagawa (2012)

However, among the populations that inhabit the surrounding areas of the PAREST, there are the Mura people from the Cunhã-Sapucaia Indigenous Land (BRAZIL, 2006), who, despite residing outside its boundaries, claim for their recognition as users of the natural resources and historical protectors of the basin of the Matupiri river, main river access to the conservation area. During the first monitoring activities undertaken, which started in 2011, several traces of use of the area by these indigenous people have been found, such as vegetation in early successional stages (known as capoeira), house structures and wood work areas. This use was confirmed at the first meeting held with former indigenous residents of the Matupiri river that took place in the municipality of Careiro (AM), when explanations were requested about the new conservation areas of the Matupiri River, and once again in 2012, when two meetings were held in the Cunhã-Sapucaia Indigenous Land with the chief of the state park, aiming to present the PAREST as well as clarify its objectives, rules and benefits (AMAZONAS, 2012).

This initial recognition allowed the verification of facts, as well as understanding some elements related to the local socioecological framework that were later included in the decision-making processes for implementation of the conservation area:

• The State Park borders the Cunhã-Sapucaia Indigenous Land;
• The main river route to access the conservation area is the Matupiri river, and the mouth of this river lies within the Cunhã-Sapucaia Indigenous Land, therefore sharing the route with the full protection area;
• As historical users, they are also identified in the region (Borba/AM, Autazes/AM and highway BR-319) as the protectors of the Matupiri river since before the creation of the PAREST;
• The Matupiri river has been much exploited for its timber wealth, game animals, turtles and fish, but the resistance mounted by the Mura for turned it into a flourishing, well-conserved area, and nowadays invasions take place in a smaller scale;
• The study of creation of the Matupiri Igapó-Açu Mosaic of Conservation Areas (AMAZONAS, 2006) did not consider these natives in their socioeconomic survey, being remarked only as "invaders" of fishing lakes by residents of the Igapó-Acu Sustainable Development Reserve, a conservation area bordering the PAREST.

 Sergio Sakagawa (2012)

After identifying these aspects, the managers of the conservation area understood that, without the effective participation of the Mura in a shared management model of the PAREST, the conservation strategy of the Purus-Madeira interfluve would become eternally incomplete, fragile, with the possibility of enduring a conflict between the area of the state of Amazonas and the Cunhã-Sapucaia Indigenous Land. Therefore, aiming to use this scenario to strengthen the management of the conservation area by respecting and acknowledging the historical constitutional rights of the Mura people living in the area, the Indigenous Special Use Zone was created during the preparation of the Matupiri State Park Management Plan.

Conflict or potentiality?
The Cunhã-Sapucaia Indigenous Land was homologated in 2006, and currently occupies an area of 471,450 ha, home to a population of approximately 580 Mura natives. According to the management plan of the Matupiri State Park (AMAZONAS, 2014), the Mura, known for their skills and wit in navigating through rivers, lakes and streams, inhabit the region of the rivers Madeira, Japurá, Solimões, Negro and Trombetas since the 17th century, according to historical records.

The Cunhã-Sapucaia Indigenous land has 11 villages officially recognized by FUNAI. Yet, the villages verified as traditional users and historical protectors of the Matupiri river, which are located within the boundaries of PAREST Matupiri, are the ones of Piranha, Vila Nova, Sapucaia, Sapucainha, Tapagem and Corrêa. These villages are represented by about 90 indigenous families, who claim for the use of the PAREST area because of their former context of use and protection. It should be noted that the Mura have used the resources of the state park for at least five decades, before PAREST Matupiri even existed. The activities developed within the area of the park comprise plant extraction, fishing and subsistence hunting.

The State Park is one of the areas used for extraction of timber species for construction and renovation of their homes and boats. The timber species exploited for this purpose are: itaúba (Ocotea megaphylla (Meisn) Mez.), marupá (Simarouba amara Aubl.), blond cedar (Ocotea rubra Mez.), angelim (Hymenolobium sericeum Ducke), and others. Among the non-wood products extracted, we can list, in order of importance, chestnut, lianas, oils of copaiba and andiroba, açaí, buriti, bacaba, patauá and honey.
In regards to fishing activities, the management plan describes 18 areas of fishing production within the PAREST, which were mapped by the Mura. Among these, 90% are designed for subsistence fishing.
Another important economic activity in which the Mura are engaged in is the sport fishing tourism. This practice has always occurred in the indigenous land, more precisely in the rivers Igapó-Acu, Tupana and Matupiri (which is currently shared between the Matupiri State Park and the Matupiri Sustainable Development Reserve). It is noteworthy that, due to the creation of the PAREST, there was a significant reduction in the income generated, since the area where the activity is developed was diminished by almost half of it. This activity deserves attention, because the Mura conceive it as one of the reasons that helped keeping the PAREST areas preserved. The culture of conservation of rivers developed by the Mura turned Matupiri into an excellent, significant river in the sport fishing agendas of the region.

 Sergio Sakagawa (2012)

Given this local reality registered by the socioeconomic assessment and the mapping for use of natural resources of the PAREST, the management plan offers as a solution to this overlapping of indigenous constitutional rights and laws concerning parks the creation of the Indigenous Special Use Zone within its zoning plan. After consulting the categories of zones that exist in Brazilian full protection conservation areas which would justify this historical use of the PAREST, we found the Conflict Use Zone in the Script for Preparation of Management Plans produced by CEUC-AM (AMAZON, 2010), and the Indigenous Overlapping Zone in the Planning Methodological Script produced by IBAMA (IBAMA, 2002). Nevertheless, both were discarded. The first one was not considered for understanding that the Mura did not cause any conflict in the conservation area; on the contrary, the creation of PAREST led them to this situation. The second one, on its turn, maintains the prerogative of temporary zone, thus determining that the Mura's cultural practices of use of natural resources should have an expiry date, not being relevant constitutionally speaking.

Consequently, Latin American cases were researched in order to help with the management of the PAREST. According to Maretti (2004), in Peru and Colombia, advances in the implementation of indigenous rights in respect to lands have been achieved by the adoption of two prerogatives: recognition of collective and permanent ownership, and recognition of the ability of self-governance. In Peru, there is an equivalence of biological values with the cultural characteristics associated with the area. In this sense, zoning implementation must not affect acquired rights of indigenous groups established previously to it (SERNANP, 2010).

In Colombia, the definition of 'Parks' also understands "historical or cultural events" as aspects just as important as biological factors (COLOMBIA, 1974). One initiative undertaken by this country considered relevant to the study is the recognition of indigenous leaders as public authorities with environmental expertise in their titled areas, deemed necessary due to the overlapping of indigenous areas and the National Park System, respecting the right of indigenous peoples in making use of natural resources with the limitations imposed by the conservation of protected areas here (Access on 28 March 2014).

Therefore, considering the knowledge of these realities and with the institutional support of CEUC-AM, which encouraged the proposal through the development of Letters of Commitments, the zoning of PAREST Matupiri was developed in two stages. First, its background was outlined, then the socioeconomic assessment and participatory mapping were presented, until reaching its effective preparation. In a second moment, the zoning plan was presented in the form of maps made by CEUC-AM, which were analyzed by the Mura people, and after the corrections and adjustments proposed, it was validated. As a result of this context, the Indigenous Special Use Zone – ZUEI was created (map below)

According to the management plan of the PAREST, an Indigenous Special Use Zone is characterized as (...) the area where, through the preparation and signing of Letters of Commitment between the user population and the conservation area's governing body, it is foreseen the management of some natural resources that are essential to the cultural reproduction of such population. (AMAZON, 2014, p. 286). The creation of the ZUEI is considered an attempt to conciliate the biological peculiarities of the PAREST with its political, historical and cultural factors, as it is an area traditionally used by the Mura population living in the indigenous land.

As a result of the creation of the Indigenous Special Use Zone of the Matupiri PAREST, we can mention:
• The partial resolution of the overlapping use of the Matupiri PAREST by the community of the Cunhã-Sapucaia Indigenous Land;
• The reduction of the distress experienced by the Mura in relation to the management and implementation actions of PAREST Matupiri;
• The commitment of the Mura in conserving the entire basin of Matupiri river, especially the areas of PAREST Matupiri, made available to their needs;
• Establishment of a strong partnership between the Cunhã-Sapucaia Indigenous Land and the Matupiri PAREST represented by indigenous leaders and CEUC, respectively;
• The effective presence of the Mura as well as their social and institutional representatives in the Management Board of the PAREST;
• Contemplation of international agreements that foster the respect to traditional and indigenous populations living in conservation areas, to which Brazil is a signatory, such as: ILO Convention 169, the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas (SECRETARÍA DEL CONVENIO SOBRE LA DIVERSIDAD BIOLOGICA, 2004), the Aichi Targets (SECRETARÍA DEL CONVENIO SOBRE LA DIVERSIDAD BIOLOGICA, 2010) and the IUCN World Parks Congress;
• Respect for national legal frameworks such as the Brazilian Constitution, the National Strategic Plan for Protected Areas (Federal Decree No. 5,758 dated 13 April 2006) and the National Policy for the Sustainable Development of Traditional Peoples and Communities (Federal Decree No. 6,040 dated 7 February 2007);
• Guarantee of a greater protection of areas and populations that will be exposed to the impacts generated by the revitalization of highway BR-319 through the conservation of biodiversity as well as the social and cultural maintenance of the Mura.

Yet, it deserves some thought the way how this area will be managed from now on. A long, arduous path has only started to be pursued, for the governing body will need to spend quite some effort and expertise to maintain the conservation objectives of the PAREST and ensure the physical and cultural reproduction of the Mura people.
The conservation areas of Amazonas are inseparable from the human presence, be it of indigenous peoples, caboclos (mestizos), riverines or quilombolas. Their presence in these areas are much more beneficial than harmful to nature conservation, regardless of being areas of sustainable use or of full protection. However, this benefit is only achieved when the presence of these several peoples and communities are interpreted as an additional "power" to reach a complex, audacious goal in common: the conservation of biodiversity.


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