Sustainable-use protected areas catalyze enhanced livelihoods in rural Amazonia

João V. Campos-Silva, Carlos A. Peres, Joseph E. Hawes, Torbjørn Haugaasen, Carolina T. Freitas, Richard J. Ladle, Priscila F. M. Lopes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Finding new pathways for reconciling socioeconomic well-being and nature sustainability is critically important for contemporary societies, especially in tropical developing countries where sustaining local livelihoods often clashes with biodiversity conservation. Many projects aimed at reconciling the goals of biodiversity conservation and social aspirations within protected areas (PAs) have failed on one or both counts. Here, we investigate the social consequences of living either inside or outside sustainable-use PAs in the Brazilian Amazon, using data from more than 100 local communities along a 2,000-km section of a major Amazonian river. The PAs in this region are now widely viewed as conservation triumphs, having implemented community comanagement of fisheries and recovery of overexploited wildlife populations. We document clear differences in social welfare in communities inside and outside PAs. Specifically, communities inside PAs enjoy better access to health care, education, electricity, basic sanitation, and communication infrastructure. Moreover, living within a PA was the strongest predictor of household wealth, followed by cash-transfer programs and the number of people per household. These collective cobenefits clearly influence life satisfaction, with only 5% of all adult residents inside PAs aspiring to move to urban centers, compared with 58% of adults in unprotected areas. Our results clearly demonstrate that large-scale “win–win” conservation solutions are possible in tropical countries with limited financial and human resources and reinforce the need to genuinely empower local people in integrated conservation-development programs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2105480118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number40
Early online date27 Sep 2021
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2021


  • Community-based conservation
  • Conservation bright spots
  • Rural economics
  • Sustainable development
  • Tropical forest

Cite this