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Ambiente & Sociedade

versão On-line ISSN 1809-4422

Ambient. soc. vol.17 no.3 São Paulo jul./set. 2014 

Traditional peoples and communities: from protected areas to the political visibility of social groups having ethnical and collective identity1



Marcelo Gustavo aguilar CalegareI; Maria Inês Gasparetto HiguchiII; Ana Carla dos Santos BrunoIII

IPhD in Social Psychology, visiting professor at the Psychology Graduation Program. Federal University of Amazonas (UFAM). e-mail:
IIPhD in Social Antropology, regular researcher at the National Institute for Amazonian Research (INPA). e-mail:
IIIPhD in Antropology and Linguistics, regular researcher at the National Institute for Amazonian Research (INPA). e-mail:




The main goal of this article is to review schematically the three vectors that influenced the consolidation of the labeling "traditional peoples and communities" in Brazil, highlighting the Amazon cases. These are: a) the international environmentalism discussions; b) the development of the debate at the national level; c) the appropriation by social groups labeled as such. The focus is to show that with the Decree nº 6040/07 the term itself has transformed and no longer is restricted to the Protected Areas. It came to designate self-defined social groups by different collective identities, who struggle for basic social rights and territory, access to natural resources and recognition in public policy that suit their needs.

Keywords: Indigenous peoples; Amazon; Protected Areas; Traditionally Occupied Land; Collective Identity.


El objetivo central de este artículo es hacer una revisión esquemática de los tres vectores que influenciaran en la consolidación de la nomenclatura "pueblos y comunidades tradicionales" en Brasil, dando énfasis a los casos amazónicos. Son ellos: a) as discusiones del ambientalismo internacional; b) el desarrollo del debate en nivel nacional; c) la apropiación por los grupos sociales rotulados como tales. El foco es mostrar que con el Decreto nº 6040/07, la expresión se ha transformado e no más se restringe al ámbito de las áreas protegidas. Este pasó a designar grupos sociales autodefinidos por diferentes identidades colectivas, que luchan por derechos sociales básicos y al territorio, acceso a los recursos naturales y reconocimiento en políticas públicas apropiadas a sus necesidades.

Palabras-clave: Pueblos y Comunidades Tradicionales; Amazonía; Áreas Protegidas; Territorios Tradicionalmente Ocupados; Identidad Colectiva.



People with training in the social sciences, and more specifically with participatory development, can be added to community-based conservation implementation teams
(Campbell & Vainio-Matilla)



In Brazil, until the mid-1980s, little importance was given to people who lived in Protected Areas (APs2). From complete invisibility and/or considered as an anthropic factor, after conflicts, debates and resolutions, they started to be recognized for their conservationist value and acknowledged as "forest guardians". Finally, in 2007, the Brazilian Government, through Decree n. 6040/07, recognized the existence of distinct "traditional peoples and communities" (PCT) in society, whose rights must be guaranteed and respected.

As explains Barreto Filho (2006), the incorporation of the PCT idea by the environmentalist agenda of the civil society and by the government in Brazil was influenced by some vectors, not always homogeneous or agreeing: 1) by the influence of the discussions in the international ambit from the APs perspective; 2) by the same international discussions regarding people and APs, but according to their development in the national ambit; 3) by the local mobilizations, whose social groups holding ethnical and collective identity started to incorporate the environmental variable as a dimension of their political struggles for right to lands and access to natural resources, which resulted in the recognition policy of the PCT.

To better explore this scenario, our aim here is to provide a schematic revision of the influences of each of these vectors to the consolidation of the PCT nomenclature in Brazil, highlighting the Amazonian cases when discussing the mobilizations of the social groups holding ethnical and collective identity. Henceforth, we will show that the PTC label is currently transformed and is no longer restricted to the APs, starting to designate social groups struggling for social basic rights and for territory, access to natural resources and recognition in public policies adequate to their needs.


The international environmentalism discussions

As stated by Phillips (2003), the APs model disseminated in the world until the mid-1970s was based on the North-American one, through which such areas were planned and managed against the impact of people (except for visitors and researchers), excluding the local people. Little importance was given to opinions, to indigenous peoples and local communities rights, and these people were hardly ever consulted or even informed of the intentions for managing these areas.

However, Barreto Filho (2006) and Diegues (2004) remark that in the annual meetings and congresses promoted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) up to the 1970s, the presence of these people in such areas gradually gained recognition. Thereby, the existence of conflicts was admitted and the right to dwell in the lands traditionally occupied was pointed out, as well as the right to participate in their management.

Although there is currently a movement to advocate new conservation, the primary focus of which is humanitarian (financial benefit to the population, especially the poorest, deriving from conservation) instead of nature protection itself (biological diversity), Soulé (2013) advocates that without traditional conservation, the global ecological collapse will be accelerated. This opinion reveals that there is still the notion of wilderness/pristine, which does not combine the presence of people and biodiversity conservation.

Retaking the argumentation, in function of the recognition of the existence of people and of conflicts in the APs, in the III World National Parks Congress (Bali/Indonesia, 1982), as reported by Phillips (2003), recommendations were finally made under the theme people related to the APs. As from this congress, an important change in focus occurs: protecting the natural areas from people into protecting natural areas for people.

According to Diegues (2004), following this debate, in IUCN events and publications in 1986, the situation of the indigenous peoples in APs was first explicitly dealt with. Yet it was only in the IV World Congress on National Parks and Protected Areas (Caracas/Venezuela, 1992) that such a theme was clearly outlined, and widely discussed in a workshop dedicated to that theme.

In Rio-92, agreements mentioning the APs and indigenous peoples and local communities: the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) were celebrated, and are provided in the preamble and in Article 8 (especially item j); Agenda 21, in Chapter 26; in the Rio Declaration, in Principle 22 (UN, 1992a, 1992b, 1992c). These documents highlight: the relation between the way of life and the environment; the role of traditional knowledge in conservation and the desirable sharing of benefits deriving from them; the recognition of their identities, culture and rights by the States; the permission to effective participation in the reach of sustainable development.

From these agreements, a gradual change in the indigenous peoples status was consolidated: traditional knowledge, expressed in other ways through the use/management of these peoples' natural resources, started to be considered as historical practices of adaptation which reflect levels of ecological sustainability, being key aspects concerning conservation and development (LIMA, POZZOBON, 2005).

In the 19th IUCN General Meeting (Buenos Aires/Argentina, 1994), the Rio-92 documents were recognized, as well as Convention 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples of the International Labour Organization, which deals with preserving the right of these peoples, advocates territorial autonomy and indicates self-definition as the criterion to identify these groups (ILO, 1989) - a definition adopted henceforth in IUCN documents (IUCN, 1994b). Among the resolutions and recommendations, the importance of the community-based approaches (recommendation 19.23) are mentioned, highlighting the construction of strong partnerships with local organizations to establish a community-based conservation (CBC) (IUCN, 1994b).

According to Dressler et al. (2010), since the 1960s, critical studies regarding participatory approaches and conservation among indigenous peoples argued that the experience and knowledge of such people should be used in conservation. As from the 1970s, by means of participatory management initiatives, it was advocated that such people should participate in the management of their areas (protected), as a way to support their subsistence and to serve conservation purposes. In the 1980s and 1990s, the concerns about community and conservation were expanded, institutionalized and amalgamated in the political-administrative structure of the global biodiversity conservation regime, through experiences recognized as integrated conservation and development projects (ICDPs), CBC or community-based natural resources management (CBNRM).

In 1999, IUCN and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) started to work together in the APs theme and, in 2000, they published five principles and guidelines regarding indigenous and traditional peoples in such areas. They are: 1) the relation between nature and traditional knowledge as a consequence of sustainable practices for using resources; 2) the agreements of the APs management based on the compliance with the rights to traditional use of resources and with the responsibility for conservation by these peoples; 3) mutual interest (management and peoples) guided by the decentralization principles, participation, transparency and accountability; 4) fully and equitably shared benefits; 5) rights of these peoples are frequently an international responsibility (BELTRÁN, 2000).

These guidelines reflect the emergence of a modern paradigm of the APs, as stated by Phillips (2003), through which the local population is no longer seen as passive recipient, but rather as active partners and even starters and leaders of management and politics in these territories. In this sense, Kothari, Camill and Brown (2013) argue that the imperative to advance towards a more inclusive and participatory conservation underwent new changes as from the V World Parks Congress (WPC) (Durban/South Africa, 2003) and subsequent events.

At the V WPC, the centrality of indigenous peoples and local communities in conservation was clearly pointed out, including respecting their customary and territorial rights, and to the central role in decision-making. These discussions caused two crucial changes in paradigm concerning the APs:

1) Moving from a governmental management of these areas towards a collaborativemanagement, involving the peoples living there in the decision-making in even conditions. Governance comes into play, referred to "those who hold management authority and responsibility and are expected to be held accountable. This authority may be derived from legal, customary or otherwise legitimate rights" (IUCN, 2004, p. 177). In this sense, four different types of governance were outlined: by the government; shared; private; by indigenous peoples and local communities (indigenous peoples' protected areas and territories - established and run by indigenous peoples; community conserved areas - declared and run by local communities).

2) Recognizing and supporting the conservationist practices of these peoples through their own rights, in the form of Community Conserved Areas (CCAs) or similar ones. CCAs, according to recommendation v.26, are "natural and modified ecosystems, including significant biodiversity, ecological services and cultural values, voluntarily conserved by indigenous and local communities through customary laws or other effective means" (IUCN, 2004, p.202).

Faced with that, in 2004 IUCN presented a document which made this change in paradigm explicit, as from its two central foundations: the definition of co-managed protected areas and of CCAs, both based on the right of indigenous peoples, local communities and of mobile indigenous peoples - defining these three categories. Moreover, a first draft of a new APs classification system was presented, replacing the 1994 one (BORRINI-FEYERABEND, KOTHARI, OVIEDO, 2004).

In the 7th Conference of the Parties (COP) of CBD (Kuala Lumpur/Malasia, 2004), through decision VII/28, a Programme of Work (POW) on APs was created, with the participation of IUCN and other entities, such as indigenous peoples and local communities representatives. One of the POW lines of action was that of "governance, participation, equity and benefit sharing", which points to the co-management protected areas with indigenous and local communities, and the recognition of CCAs as a category (CBD, 2004).

In the 3rd and 4th World Conservation Congress (WCC) (Bankok/Thailand, 2004 and Barcelona/Spain, 2008, respectively), these decisions were endorsed, discussed and put into action, the differential of these events being the involvement of entities representing the indigenous peoples in decision-making (IUCN, 2005, 2009). Lastly, after a number of discussions and events in different countries, in 2008, IUCN publishes the new guidelines to apply the APs management categories. Their differential was to make a matrix among the management categories (I.a, I.b, II, III, IV, V, IV) and of the types of governance mentioned before (DUDLEY, 2008).

Under this new APs imperative, in the CBD COP 10 (Nagoya/Japan, 2010) the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 was approved, containing 5 central goals and divided into 20 targets to be met by the signing countries - denominated Aichi Biodiversity Targets - and officially disseminated in Rio+20 (Rio de Janeiro/Brazil, 2012). It is worth noting that the first Plan, established in the CBD COP 6 (The Hague/The Netherlands, 2002) for 2002-2010, none of the targets was fully met by the countries, which was considered a collective failure (MACHADO et al., 2012). Among the new Plan targets, target 18 is highlighted, which deals with the compliance of national legislations and international commitments to the traditional knowledge relevant to conservation, to the use of biodiversity sustainability and to the common use of biological resources, as well as the full participation of indigenous and local communities in the full implementation of CBD (WEIGAND JR., SILVA, SILVA, 2011).

Following this trend of full participation of indigenous peoples in the purposes of conservation, eventually, in the 5th WCC (Jeju/South Korea, 2012) a decision was made to aggregate the Indigenous Peoples' Organization (IPO) as voting members in the IUCN. Besides implementing the Aichi Targets and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) of 2007, Resolution 94 also stressed the respect, recognition and support to Indigenous Peoples' and Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCAs) - a term that has evolved in international discussions as from the introduction of the CCAs, but the definition of which remained the same as aforementioned. Interestingly, in this resolution, indigenous peoples' and traditional and local communities are designated, specifically referring to indigenous peoples in accordance with C169/ILO and UNDRIP (IUCN, 2012).

In sum, the APs were initially created for nature conservation, without considering people as an integral part of them. After there being conflicts with these areas dwellers, their eviction was repudiated and their involvement in decision-making was pondered. The initial justification for was the valorization of traditional knowledge for conservation purposes. The sequence of this debate was the alliance of biological and cultural diversity, which for being associated they should both be preserved, increased the importance of speaking about community-based conservation. Finally, there was the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities to their territory, to the use of natural resources and to autonomy for managing their areas as from self-definition, introduced by the C169/ILO. This focus on rights was no longer restricted to APs peoples, but was rather extended to the social groups fitting the conventions criteria, declarations and international resolutions - yet always from the perspective of their inherent conservationist values. In this way, some treaties were also elaborated more specifically stressing the right to cultural diversity, such as the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001), the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005) and UNDRIP (2007) (SHIRAISHI NETO, 2007).

Currently, all these international discussions are guided in practice by two central aspects: the co-management of APs and the ICCAs. Nevertheless, Campbell and Vainio-Mattila (2003) demonstrate that participatory approaches to conservation have failed in gaining significant participation in practice, as instead of focusing on participatory development, pragmatic concerns have dominated the CBC implementation. Likewise, Dressler et al. (2010) say that this model aligning both APs and communities, which the aim is combining social justice, welfare and environmental integrity, has been compromised when entangled by the institutional bureaucratic barriers, discourses and local complexities. Further on, Homewood, Trench and Brockington (2012) reveal that, by means of this model based on the win-win logic (nature conservation and community development), few times or none has wildlife conservation brought financial benefits to local communities.


The discussion at the Brazilian ambit

As advocates Diegues (2004), the Brazilian AP model was an import of the North-American model, based on the notion of wilderness, which considered that natural areas should be protected against human activities, except for those related to tourism, educational measures and scientific researches. Yet, Medeiros, Irving and Garay (2006) advocate that such a model was not a mere copy, since thanks to the Brazilian social-historical process, it gained specific contours and particularities. Despite the divergence in opinions, the result was that also in Brazil there were many cases of AP establishments, fully disconsidering the existence of dwellers, resulting in their eviction and in conflicts (ARRUDA, 1999).

Within this scenario of AP conflicts, in Brazil, as from the 1980s, the international discussion about indigenous peoples was incorporated, as says Vianna (2008). Focusing on the possibility of people remaining on the land and on the right to use natural resources in the indirect use APs, non-ethnical groups started to be recognized - that is, no longer restricted to indigenous peoples and/or quilombos remainders (former fugitive slave communities) - as holding positive characteristics for conservation, thanks to their harmonic relation with nature. Hence the emergence of traditional populations. For the author, there were two distinct perspectives in Brazil influencing such discussions, which were crossed despite their different origins: 1) that from the conservationist environment, involving the government and the civil society in general, which incorporated populations to the conservation discourse; 2) that of social rural movements, whose social groups incorporated the conservation discourse to the struggle for land and access to natural resources. This second perspective will be debated in the next section.

In relation to the first, Barreto Filho (2006) highlights that the Brazilians who formulated the notion of traditionalpopulations were based on social Brazilian thought lines. Among the representatives of this tradition was Ribeiro (1995) and his work, for whom one should not think of forming a single culture of the Brazilian people. On the contrary, the formation of distinct regional cultures - the so-called rusticcultures - should be pondered; the author describes them as being crioula (from African slave descendants), caipira (in rural areas; on the coast, caiçara), cabocla (of mixed Brazilian Indian and European descent, in Northern), sertaneja (from the inland, usually remote, dry rural areas, in Northeastern) and sulista (Southern) cultures. As summarizes Arruda (1999), these regional cultures would result from the different formations of Brazil due to economic, geographic, historical, biophysical circumstances, among others, which produced generic and particular characteristics to the populations representing them.

This national literature, combined with international discussions regarding indigenous peoples, served as a base to the Brazilian academic production regarding the PCT. Diegues (2004), a precursor of the national level debate, theorizes about these social groups from the perspective of advocating the permanence of dwellers in Conservation Units (UCs) (Brazilian APs). The author states there is some confusion in the use of the terms traditional populations/societies/cultures/communities to refer to non-indigenous Brazilian groups. This is because depending on the theoretical bias, usually deriving from social sciences, each of these terms refers to something different: peasant, primitive society and so on and so forth.

Besides revising the differences in understanding the anthropological approaches concerning the mutual influence culture/environment, Diegues (2004) also recovers the scientific productions which debate historical peasantry. The author shows how in such theorizations the differentiation of certain social groups is stressed according to distinct criteria: a) whether they are autonomous or not in relation to the capitalist society and their degree of dependence; b) if the culture is more or less connected to the capitalist mode of production or to small mercantile production; c) of the degree of relation with nature, which defines their territoriality; d) how, besides the space for economic reproduction and of the social relations, the territory is also the locus of the representations and of the mythological imagination of these groups.

Based on these general differentiation criteria, Diegues (2004) lists eleven characteristics which make traditional cultures and societies unique, based on a notion of ideal type. However, the author highlights that none of these cultures exists in pure state, due to the greater or smaller weight of each of these factors and with the degree of articulation with the capitalist mode of production, which has altered their primary configuration. Diegues and Arruda (2001) point as an empirical example of traditional societies: azorians (descendent from Açores island, Southern coast), babaçueiros (dealing with babaçu coconut, Mid-West, Northeast and Northern), Amazonian caboclos/riverines (Amazon extractive peoples, Northern), caiçaras (mixed from indigenous, European and African descendants, Southeastern and Southern coast), caipiras/sitiantes (countryside agriculturalists and cowboys, Southern and Mid-West), campeiros (Southern herdsmen), jangadeiros (Northeastern rafters), pantaneiros (Pantanal's people, Mid-Western), artisanal fishermen (all coast, rivers and lakes), praieiros (Amazon beach dwellers, Northern and Northeastern), quilombolas (former African fugitive slaves descendants), sertanejos/vaqueiros (Northeastern and Mid-Western herdsmen, in dry rural areas), varjeiros (non-Amazonian riverside dwellers, Southern, Southeastern and Northeastern) and indigenous.

In the 1990s, the debate on the traditionalpopulations was disseminated in Brazil and marked the voting of the law of the new National System of Conservation Units (SNUC). The elaboration of the first proposal of the new SNUC was ordered by the Brazilian Institute for Forest Development (IBDF) in 1988 to NGO Fundação Pró-Natureza (Funatura), and turned into a text which resulted in two versions of drafts of laws in 1989 - already being funded by the recently established Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) (PÁDUA, 2011). According to Vianna (2008), the first draft of law of the new SNUC, sent to the Congress in 1992, clearly expressed that human presence posed a threat to biodiversity conservation, prioritizing the strict protection UCs. As a consequence of the discussions about UCs and traditional populations, alternative proposals were presented in the following years suggesting several alterations, stressing the importance of these people, already in agreement with national (and international) discussions.

Only in 2000 was Law n. 9.985 enforced, instituting the new SNUC which brought significant advances to the initial version. Nevertheless, Item XV of Article 2, defining traditional populations, was vetoed both for divergences between conservationists and those populations, each for a different reason (SANTILLI, 2004). Besides the veto, there was a flood of criticism to the idea of traditional populations and to the presuppositions associated to it (BARRETO FILHO, 2006; LITTLE, 2004). For Vianna (2008), in spite of the terminological ambiguities, those populations gained great visibility with SNUC and started to appear in new legal provisions. This meant that with the steady recognition, the UCs dwellers started to have a protagonist status: forest guardians and environmental service renderers, valuable not only to forest conservation, but to humanity as a whole. Only in 2007 would it be legally defined by Decree n. 6040/07, as verified in the next section.

Especially from 2000 onwards, the Brazilian Government has incorporated the international conventions and declarations aforementioned to the national legal system, containing references to social groups holding ethnical and collective identity, as Shiraishi Neto (2007) prefers to call them. Therefore, all the themes discussed in the previous section have also been incorporated to the Brazilian discussion about APs and traditional populations, especially owing to the commitments taken on by Brazil before the international community. An example is the National Protected Areas Plan (PNAP) of 2006, which explicitly adheres to the CBD POW line of action, in which indigenous peoples, quilombolas and localcommunities are fit into the APs conservation purposes (BRAZIL, 2011).

Another example are the Brazilian proposals for the Aichi Targets. As described by Machado et al. (2012), target 11 deals with: a) strengthening SNUC to protect land biomes, continental waters, marine and coastal areas; b) recognizing the contribution of the indigenous and quilombolasterritories to conservation, their territorial rights having to be ensured by the demarcation and regulation of their territories; c) including the Legal Reserves (RL) and Permanent Protection Areas (APP) in the APs accountability in Brazil. Target 18 follows that same line of international proposal, mentioning abidance by the legislation of the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and traditional communities. Note that the Indigenous Lands (TI) and those of the quilombola communities were definitely encompassed in the conservationist discourse of the APs and of biodiversity - even though the rights of these social groups, guaranteed by the 1988 Brazilian Contitution (Arts. 68, 231 and 232), derived from another context and such territories not integrating SNUC (SANTILLI, 2004; LITTLE, 2004). Furthermore, although the Brazilian proposal of Aichi Targets had been widely discussed at national level, it does not follow the PCT definitions of Decree n. 6040/07.

Summarizing, in Brazil the APs also generated evictions of local population, which caused conflicts with the local social groups and fostered supporting mobilizations by the civil society. The indigenous peoples discussions were gradually aggregated to the production of traditional populations. At national level, however, there was such disagreement that the definition was vetoed within the SNUC law - despite those social groups starting to gain visibility from then on.

Again, with the adhesion to CBD and to the other international treaties, there has been a growing discussion about the participation in APs management, governance, traditional knowledge associated to conservation purposes, respect to culture and to the rights to territory and use of natural resources by traditional populations. From the 2000s onwards, thus, more sustainable use UCs were created than those of strict protection (DRUMMOND, FRANCO, OLIVEIRA, 2010). Yet, in spite of the PCT definition being legally outlined by Decree n.6040/07, it does not seem to be in the same line as the nomenclature adopted in the discussions about APs.


Appropriation by the Amazonian social groups and governmental policies

The governmental stimulus to the entrance of large capital in the Amazon, as from the 1960s, by means of programs and of projects, brought about conflicts for a number of groups of the region dwellers. For Loureiro (2004), until then, the Amazonian rural society was characterized by great fragmentation, isolation of the families and late class awareness-raising by the subordinate social groups. Consequently, for the absence or insufficiency of concrete social and political organization, such groups were turned into domination object by the Government and by the different forms of capital that were being established. This situation started to change as the local social groups started to get organized, stimulated by institutions such as the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), labor unions and the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI). The immediate confrontation resulted from an economic issue: ensuring survival through the access to natural resources. In the long run, confrontation turned into a political struggle for advocating usurped rights and values.

As says Diegues (2004), the social reactions to the expropriation of the common use territories materialized in different ways: a) through autonomous localized movements; b) local movements supervised by the Government; c) local movements with incipient alliances with NGOs; d) local movements with insertion in ample social movements. One of the first movements to gain national visibility was the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB), which was started as from the 1970s as a reaction to the great governmental projects for constructing of hydropower plants.

Nevertheless, the movement of the rubber tappers and extractivists of the Acre River valley was the first to have great national and international visibility. The resistance of the local dwellers to the arrival of agribusiness companies and colonization projects stimulated by the Government occurred, as stated by Allegretti (1992), based on labor union organization and according to four distinct movements: 1) for the empates (parities) (1973-1976); 2) for compensations and agreements with the government (1976-1980); 3) for colonization programs (1980-1985); 4) for the establishment of the Extractivist Reserve (1985-1990), as a result of the political struggle by the rubber tappers, specially highlighting Chico Mendes.

These social groups were organized by means of the National Council of the Rubber Tappers (CNS) and constituted the Forest Peoples Alliance - together with the Union of Indigenous Nations (UNI) and the Ecumenical Center for Documentation and Information (CEDI) (VIANNA, 2008). Supported by the Institute of Amazonian Studies (IEA) and the Center for Amazonian Workers, the Extractivist Settlement Project (Administrative Rule n. 627/87) was established within the National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA), as part of the National Agrarian Reform Plan. In 1990, the project started to be directly acknowledged as Resex (Decree n. 98897/90), under Ibama supervision. The first Resex established was that of Alto Juruá (Decree n. 98863/90).

According to Almeida (1994), in the late 1980s there were also other social Amazonian groups politically organized into regional and national character entities, which had been promoting meetings to aggregate interests and to increase their bargain power before the State. These meetings presented two points: a) the consensus of the local demands in a reaction to the governmental policies; b) common basic propositions: advocating agrarian reform, demarcation of indigenous and ecological preservation lands.

In other words, the governmental programs eventually worked as a basic element to building compositions and solidary bonds of these social groups, which did not necessarily represent professional categories or class segments, but which constituted "mobilization units". Those mobilization units gathered collective interests in localized and immediate struggles, reducing the differences for the benefit of common goals, such as the struggle for the non-removal of a certain area or for maintaining a pre-governmental programs way of life. The discursive strategy used by these mobilization units was the adoption of generic notions, such as forest peoples, extractivists, people affected by dams, babaçu coconut breakers, among others, thus differentiating themselves from the other social movements. This resulted in the politicization of these terms of local use, breaking with the political monopoly of jargons such as peasant or rural worker. In sum, for the author, altering the names and the set of organization practices translated deeper political transformations in the mobilization capacity of these social groups faced with the State.

The struggle of these social groups, expressed by the visibility of their ethnic and collective identities, was strengthened as they articulated their political interests to the transnational coalitions with Brazilian and foreign environmentalist and conservationist NGOs, as observed by Barreto Filho (2006). The author complements that the international pressure, the emergence of Amazonia shared management proposals and the emerging social mobilizations led President Sarney government to create a series of measures for the region, such as the establishment of the Programme for the Defense of the Legal Amazonia Ecosystem Complex - Programme Our Nature (Decree n. 96944/88), Ibama (Law 7735/89) and the disposition on the Resex. Bentes (2005) points out that President Collor government, more explicitly, started to devote more attention to the environmental and indigenous issues, under the impact of the international pressure on the Amazonia, at the same time as it abided by the principles of neoliberalism imposed by multilateral organisms. An empirical proof of this international interference were the National Programme for the Environment phase I (PNMA I), of 1991, and the Pilot Programme for the Protection of the Tropical Forests of Brazil (PPG-7), made official in Rio-92 and adopted in the following years by the Brazilian Government. As summarized by Barreto Filho (2006), the goal of these measures "was to show that Brazil was in a position of being able to export environmental public assets to the rest of the world, exchanging tropical forests conservation by financial, technological and institutional aid from its international partners" (p.133 - free translation).

In this international pressure period, of national academic productions and by local social groups, there was the first governmental effort to recognize the traditional populations: Ibama created the National Center for the Sustainable Development of Traditional Populations (CNPT) (Ibama Administrative Rule n. 22, of 10/Feb/1992), which congregated some of the representative political organizations of these social groups. However, the internal stresses of this body and the distinct environmentalist visions led them to not agree to a legal definition- including the one suggested in SNUC, but vetoed, as formerly commented.

Only some years later would the Brazilian Government resume the effort for the legal recognition of traditional populations, especially for a more active adhesion to international treaties. The growing visibility, the political disputes, the strategic alliances and promotion of the spaces destined to these social groups ensured that some of them actively participated in in the works by the National Committee for the Sustainable Development of Traditional Communities (Decree n. 10408 from 27/Dec/2004).

The committee organized nine meetings between 2004 and 2005, with these group representatives, NGOs and academics. The I National Meeting of Traditional Communities: Agendas for Public Policies was then organized and held between 17 and 19 August 2005, in Luziânia (Goiás), aiming to conceptually define traditional communities, to identify, together with the representatives, the major demands and hindrances to public policies, to elect representatives and to revise the committee (BRAZIL, 2004). After this meeting, some entities representing these social groups (fifteen) started to integrate the committee together with the government representatives (fifteen). They were: agro-extractivists from the Amazon, caiçara, fundo de pasto communities (herdsman, Northeastern), terreiro communities (Afro-Brazilian descendant), quilombolas, faxinais (Southern herdsman and agriculturalists), geraizeiros (Southeastern inhabitants of the Cerrado biome, São Francisco River), pantaneiros,artisanal fishermen, Pomeranians (descendant from Pomerania), gipsy peoples, indigenous peoples, babaçu coconut breakers, retireiros (herdsmen and agriculturalists from Araguaia River, Mid-Western and Northern) and rubber tappers.

Later, five more regional meetings were organized with the same goal for definition, three of which conducted in the São Francisco River Basin, due to the polemic transposition of its waters idealized by President Lula government.

The discussion about who these traditional communities were was observed to go beyond the boundaries of the UCs, being appropriated by a large number of social groups holding ethnical and collective identity in the most different environmental, regional and social contexts. This comes to clarify that the traditional populations and communities label started to be used according to the political interest of different Brazilian social groups, as a strategy to have their demands and claims recognized by the State (DIEGUES, ARRUDA, 2001; ALMEIDA, 2008).

The participation of these social groups was also detached in international forums. In the CBD COP 8 (Curitiba/Brazil, 2006), the Ministry of the Environment (MMA), in a cooperation with the Ministry of Social Development and Struggle against Hunger (MDS), The Brazilian Anthropological Association (ABA), the Faxinais Network and other traditional communities representatives, promoted the parallel event National Committee for the Sustainable Development of Traditional Peoples and Communities in Brazil: an experience in the creation of public spaces for indigenous peoples and local communities. As observed, there is obvious reciprocal interference among the terms circulating in the international context with intense discussions in the national ambit.

Still in 2006, the National Council for the Sustainable Development of Traditional Communities was reformulated and renamed, removing traditional communities and adding traditional peoples and communities to their name (Decree n. 10884 de 13/07/2006) -which the acronym is CNPCT. After two national meetings, the base text for the future National Policy for the Sustainable Development of Traditional Peoples and Communities was elaborated, sent for discussion in five regional meetings.

Considering the suggestions, the third national meeting concluded the proposal instituted by Decree n. 6040/07. Item I of Art. 3 provides a clear definition of who PCT are:

Culturally differentiated groups and that recognize themselves as such, who have their own ways of social organization, who occupy and use territories and natural resources as a condition for their cultural, social, religious, ancestral and economic reproduction, using knowledge, innovations and practices generated and passed on through tradition. [Free translation]

According to Almeida (2007), the term populations denoted a certain discomfort and ended up being removed and replaced with peoples and communities, both owing to the discussions occurring in the ambit of C169/ILO, in which tribal peoples are mentioned, and for referring to the mobilization dynamics of the communities. The term traditional, more than synonymous to archaic and outdated, is resignified by the social groups and indicates a collective construction process of demands to the State.

In other words, the biologized subjects defined as primitive and other derivations have been displaced, currently being understood as collective subjects organized into social movements, expressed by means of their collective identities and who use the PCT jargon as a visibility strategy. In sum, this PCT definition brings along a new legal ordination, by which "explicitly, the linguistic diversity, the diversity of knowledge and traditional practices and of the other cultural expressions of the peoples" (p.16 - free translation) are recognized. As the author argues, it is the recognition of the diversity of cultural expressions in Brazil, which extrapolated the ambit of the UCs, APs and of the Amazon.

Decree n. 6040/07 clearly refers to sustainable development, to traditional territories and to self-definition. As a consequence of the latter, there are many more PCT than those listed in the 15 formal representations participating in CNPCT. The effort towards the social mapping of these social groups has been undertaken by the Nova Cartografia Social da Amazonia and Nova Cartografia Social do Brasil [New Social Cartography of Amazonia and of Brazil, respectively], which aim to identify and to confer visibility to the emergence of the distinct collective identities of these social groups legally recognized as PCT (ALMEIDA, FARIAS Jr., 2013).

Despite the formulation of the decree, this does not mean it has been abided by as foreseen, as there are intense disputes of interests between different social agents, manifested by means of diverging laws, programs and projects - as is the case of building the Belo Monte hydropower plant. The difference now is that the PCT struggles continue, but supported by a legal device that ensures them visibility by means of the full and effective exercise of citizenship. There is then a new configuration: Brazil is recognized not to be a mestizo country in the North-American melting pot style, but multicultural and pluriethnical, and the rights of these social groups should be guaranteed by the legislation.



Notwithstanding there still being strict protection categories, both by IUCN and by SNUC, the evolution of the discussions concerning the people living in APs went towards the ample recognition of their fundamental role in nature conservation. In the international ambit, the current imperative is that the management of these areas should be shared with the dwellers, attributing them a wide-level protagonist status in the conduction of this objective. More than that, such autonomy of the indigenous peoples and local communities allowed considering that there is a great effort towards recognizing the ICCAs - even if the concrete experiences have shown difficulties to this model success. By way of self-definition and of the cultural and territorial rights of these social groups, more and more conservation of the bio and social diversity is referred to as a transnational issue.

Hence, what has to be examined as from this trajectory are the geopolitical interests existing behind these new propositions, which seem to present invaluable advances of global union in favor of nature and of the rights of the peoples, yet they hide a plot for dominating the territories and their natural resources.

Following the international advances, in the national ambit there has also been significant recognition of the PCT and its role in the conservation in the UCs, especially regarding the right to remain in the territory, to the use of natural resources and to the participation in the area management. However, the social mobilizations and political pressure by the social groups holding ethnical and collective identities, labeled with the generic PCT nomenclature, brought a different perspective to understanding the relation between populations and APs, extrapolating this ambit. Their demands are for rights, especially territorial ones - which also encompassed social groups outside the UCs, under the aggregating denomination of PCT. Nature gained an ideological-political dimension and, as in every political game, these social groups voice was amplified by alliances with social agents with common interests, even if with different motivations.

One of the most important aspects for the legal-normative definition of PCT was that of the assumption of the classifications by those classified, which gradually occurred due to political organization, claims and alliances with other social agents (universities, NGOs, government sectors, etc.) Within the perspectives opened by Decree n. 6040/07, the PCTs no longer restrict the ambit of the UCs, but all the social groups composing the wide cultural diversity and ethnical plurality of Brazil, and who struggle to guarantee their rights. Nevertheless, the imperative of conservation is what seems to ensure their visibility.



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Submitted on: 24/04/13.
Accept on: 02/06/14.



1. The first author thanks FAPEAM/CNPq for granting the DCR scholarship while the paper was elaborated. We thank the anonymous referees for the substantial contributions that enriched this text.
2 The Brazilian abbreviations will be kept in Portuguese.

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