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Unprocessed natural rubber is an important part of the local economy for communities in the Amazon. Sustainable management of the forests and the natural rubber trees they contain adds value to the natural forest while also bringing work to communities in the Amazon. As a result, the natural rubber value chain has a major role in preserving the Amazon environment by reducing deforestation.
Nonetheless, because of the Covid pandemic, communities in the Amazon are seriously affected by social isolation, jeopardizing the sustainability of the natural rubber economy based on cooperatives and local enterprises which make a significant contribution to family incomes. The whole production chain has been weakened by the health crisis and the challenge is to prevent the communities concerned falling back on alternative solutions to preserve their livelihoods such as illegal logging or gold panning or felling trees to make space for agriculture.
In this context the Michelin Corporate Foundation has wished to give its backing to WWF Brazil by becoming involved in a project which takes account of both the socio-economic aspects of the health crisis and the impacts on the climate.
In the short run, the project aims to preserve the existing ecosystem by improving the way natural rubber is extracted and commercialized by traditional communities. Better organizing the process and making it more viable will sustain employment for local people, mitigate the negative impacts of the health crisis, help promote forest conservation and reduce deforestation and the carbon emissions that go with it.
Practically, in the medium term, the project potentially covers 14 conservation units with a total surface area of 6,8 million hectares of forest, directly providing sufficient revenues for the guardians of the forest, some 3,800 families who currently inhabit the forest and ensure its conservation.
The wider aim of the project is to develop and promote a natural rubber manufacturing chain which is inclusive, open, fair and compliant with the most stringent international environmental standards, thus reducing the pressure of deforestation on the Amazon Forest.