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Implementation of Agro-Extractive Settlements in the Lower Amazon Floodplain



The Agro-Extractive Settlement Project (PAE) is an agrarian reform territorial policy, granting exclusive collective use rights to traditional populations. Formerly created for upland forest communities (in 1996), the PAE in the Lower Amazon is the first experience of the national agrarian reform agency (INCRA) with floodplain communitiesForty-one PAEs were created between December 2005 and July 2006, and the implementation of 15 PAEs initiated in 2008 in collaboration with IPAM, a local NGO, is currently in progress.




The PAEs goals include:


  • ​- land security for floodplain communities,
  • - conservation of the floodplain resources,
  • - and development of sustainable production systems.




The floodplain residents are the beneficiaries of the PAEs through being granted exclusive use rights to local resources, inclusion of their local ruling system in the management plan, and financial and technical support for their production system.

Local residents employed by the state, however, are not eligible for the financial benefits. The PAE has several participatory elements in its design. Request for the creation of a PAE must be initiated by local residents, and the demarcation of physical boundaries, the management plan, and monitoring system are formulated in collaboration with local residents.




However, active participation is limited by the poor organizational capacity of the communities and the governmental agenciestime and financial constraints, centralized bureaucratic procedures, local politics stemming from limited information flow, and accentuated power relations.


Plus, different perceptions, motivations, and goals of different stakeholders limit effective participation and violate some of the criteria for the implementation of the PAEs. The rushed implementation process and blueprint approach to create PAEs along the whole region are major threats for the bottom-up process needed in order to ensure social inclusion, sustainability, and proper rural development.  


Structure and financing


The PAE is an innovative institutional arrangement which demanded the collaboration of three national agencies. Through a technical cooperation contract, the Secretary of National Patrimony (SPU) in charge of the governance of national wetlands transfers power to the national agency for agrarian reform (INCRA) to be in charge of the creation and implementation of the PAEs, and to the national environmental agency (IBAMA) to be in charge of the environmental monitoring in the PAEs.


The process of creating the PAE (including much of the PAE infrastructure), credit programs and long term technical assistance for PAE residents, and preparation of PUs and PDAs are largely funded by INCRA. Although exact figures are not available, in 2003 the estimated cost for an INCRA settlement was US$11,500.00.


The PAE Council, the Utilization and Development Plans, and the concession contract are the three governance pillars of the PAE where local residents are directly involved.  PAE is an institutional innovation that enables a combination of scientific, technocratic, and traditional knowledge; brings potentially conflicting actors into collaboration.