Home Institution

Duke University

Publication Date

Fall 2006

Program Name

Brazil: Amazon Resource Management and Human Ecology


Over the last twelve years the Amazonian MST assentamento, Palmares II, in the Southeastern state of Para, has experienced many successes in terms of advances in education, health care services, community organization, and physical infrastructure in general. This progress in community development is often considered to support the theory of agrarian reform as an effective mechanism for achieving greater social equality and stability. Despite these relative successes, community development to date has not supported the concept of agrarian reform as a mechanism of environmental preservation and sustainable land use. This is due in part to the failure of the community to instill a strong sense of environmental consciousness and is demonstrated by environmental problems such as river pollution, poor community sanitation and unsustainable land use. This study shows that while some elements of environmental consciousness are present; such as awareness of specific problems, a sense of community responsibility for problem management, and the initial stages of action for environmental conservation and management, residents do not have an active awareness of the connection and interdependence of the natural environment and the community, in terms of health, economic, recreations, and general aesthetics. This disconnection is thus the main hindrance to overall environmental consciousness and conservation initiatives.

This study then examines community strengths, as well as residents’ expressed problems and priorities for future development to identify possible routes through which the enhancement of environmental consciousness can be incorporated into the continued development of Palmares II. This mapping suggests that the enhancement of health- problem specific education programs, the professional training for community teachers and coordinators, and the organizing of key individuals would be valuable in developing a base from which to educate and raise awareness of the connection between the environment and the community of Palmares II.


Agricultural and Resource Economics | Politics and Social Change


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