|In order to save the rainforest, Brazil's youngest park director has declared war on the drug gangs and logging mafia as well as on illegal fishing.
The Campos Amazonicos National Park is one of the most problematic in Brazil. It is a microcosm of all the problems found in the Amazon: illegal logging, cattle breeding, tin mines and a drugs route that runs right through the middle of it.
Turning the park around was the challenge undertaken by Ana Rafaela D'Amico, Brazil's youngest national park director.
D'Amico hails from Guaraniaçu in Parana and developed an interest in nature as a child, when she would accompany her father as he went about his reforestation work.
"People say about the Amazon that either a person comes here and desperately wants to leave - and I’ve been there - or you love it and decide to stay. I decided to do something, to help."
-Ana Rafaela D'Amico
She spent the first few years of her career working to conserve mammals in the National Park of Iguacu. After winning a Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) competition in 2005, she began working as a coordinator for the Core Conservation Units.
The creation of the 8,760 square kilometre Campos Amazonicos National Park offered her an opportunity to take on another challenge.
"It was a unit that was in desperate need of people and had several problems that I had [encountered previously]," D'Amico explains. "As there was nobody to solve these problems, it was up to me to do so."
In just a little over a year, the results of her team's work were quite visible. In 2006, the park was considered the most deforested in the country, but by 2008 actions undertaken by D'Amico's team had ensured that not a single hectare had fallen prey to loggers.
These efforts included increased supervision of the park, meetings with residents of the surrounding area and agreements on coexistence made with those still living within it.
"People have to work here to make sure what happened to the Atlantic Ocean doesn't happen to the Amazon," she says.
While there is much work still to be done, the young park director feels that teaching people that "they can profit from the forest without having to damage it" will spark a shift in attitudes.
Source: Al Jazeera