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Brazil: Rainforest canopy infrastructure for eco tourism and research

General information
Project location: Itacoatiara, Amazonas, Brazil
Consortium: Intercapital BV, Amazonat Jungle Lodge Ltda, I-PIATAM Instituto de Inteligencia Socioambiental Estrategica da Amazonia
Project Budget: Euro 1.0 million
External financing: 50% grant funding by PSOM
Project period: January 2008 - December 2009

Amazonat Jungle Lodge Ltda. and its principal shareholder Intercapital B.V. from the Netherlands have been granted PSOM funding to establish rainforest canopy and river tourism, and research activities. Amazonat Jungle Lodge is located some 160 km east of Manaus, Brazil, and comprises a comfortable base camp with cabins, a jungle survival camp and a recently commissioned floating lodge on the Urubu River. In cooperation with Instituto Piatam, a non-governmental eco-research organisation from Amazonas, they have designed an exciting project that will contribute to the preservation of the Amazon rainforest through synergetic interaction between eco-tourism and eco-research.

The most spectacular part of the project will be the rainforest canopy towers and walkways built to explore tree-top ecology 30 meters above the jungle floor. It is likely that previously undocumented species of flora and fauna will be discovered. The canopy walkways will be open to small groups of tourists and researchers who can reach the towers by way of a minimal impact access trail.

A traditional river boat will be purchased, reconditioned and equipped for exploration of the Amazon River and its tributaries. The boat will be mostly engaged in tourism activities but Piatam will regularly rent the vessel for river data collection.

Local guides will be trained to safely operate the new tourism facilities and to impart in-depth information on the environment to the visitors. In total 14 additional staff will be employed by Amazonat at the end of the project.

On the premises of Amazonat Jungle Lodge a research centre will be established to accommodate national and international researchers. The eco-research will be coordinated by Piatam and implemented in cooperation with international academic organisations. An exposition area will be set up where research results can be displayed and presentations given to the visitors of Amazonat. The research and its results will add content to the eco-tourism offering. Data organised in thematic layers will be made available on high resolution satellite imagery accessible through Google Earth.

New itineraries will be prepared for tourists, who on average will remain much longer at Amazonat than presently due to the added facilities and attractions. On the one hand, the income from tourism will bring the promoters a return on their investment in research infrastructure. On the other hand, the research will generate a wealth of information that will attract eco-tourists.

The principal spin-off of the project is that it will be instrumental in obtaining a protective legal status for the project area, approximately 25,000 ha, that will protect it from further encroachment by shifting cultivators, and at the same time provide local employment and education that will serve as an incentive to the local population to preserve the natural environment.

For more information on the Amazonat Jungle Lodge, please refer to www.amazonat.org.

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