The Amazon Charitable Trust (ACT) is a foundation that is working to help native populations of the Amazon rain forest manage the forest in a non-destructive and profitable manner. It currently protects 178,000 hectares, but is pending government approval to expand to 600,000 hectares, and eventually, beyond.

It is becoming more and more popular to set up "extractive reserves", often shortened to 'resex' (from the Portuguese 'reserva extrativista') in the Brazilian Amazon, in which traditional communities of the forest are supported in maintaining a healthy, profitable, and reasonably modern lifestyle while maintaining their lands sustainable ways (generally harvesting rubber, açaí berry, Brazil nuts, and wood, and making handicrafts). The ACT is currently working in the Xixuaú-Xiparina region (on the border of the Brazilian States of Roraima and Amazonas), in forest that has not yet been affected by modern development.

However, the ACT has a twist; while it is supporting the community and helping protect their land rights from developers, it is also working to integrate the community into ongoing scientific endeavors. It trains locals to help map the native flora and to act as local guides to rain forest researchers. At the same time it appears to be assimilating the land rights of local families into a formal legal trust that will turn the area in to a official reserve, including, eventually, a science center that is planned to be a valuable international resource for scientists and corporations interested in studying the rain forest. The local association of landowners will retain control over their initial land, although, one assumes, without the right to sell the land to developer or other commercial enterprises.

The local co-op (CoopXixuaú), with the aid of ACT, have set up a local school, health post, rooms for tourists/scientists, a fresh-water supply, and a solar-powered satellite internet connection. The co-op is actively involved in the process of expanding and legally formalizing the officially protected reserve area.

ACT is hoping to expand this model into other areas in Brazil, and plans to eventually act as an umbrella organization to a network of resex. ACT is certainly accepting donations, and would love to tell you more about their projects.

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