The Forest Grant Program, supported by Instituto TIM for its social nature, is the largest project worldwide for the payment of environmental services. Created by the Amazonas State Government and implemented by the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS), the program is based on four pillars – society, income, family and association – with families that maintain and reforest areas of rainforest in Conservation Units in the state of Amazonas. 38,000 local inhabitants who live on riverbanks take part in the initiative, in an area of over 10 million hectare, equivalent in size to Portugal.
With the program’s support, the local inhabitants themselves propose projects they would like to see executed and build houses and schools in their communities. The actions are articulated in assemblies amongst the inhabitants, FAS and representatives of the public sector. “In some environmental reserves, we have created villages. The location and buildings were decided by the inhabitants, who helped us implement the project,” says the coordinator of Special Projects at FAS, Victor Salviati.
FAS also rewards inhabitants who preserve the environmental services at 15 state Conservation Units which have been part of the program since 2008 – in total, there are 42 units in the state of Amazonas. Amongst the actions taken in 2013, one of the most noteworthy was the support to build a municipal school in the Rio Madeira Sustainable Development Reserve: “The location is hard to reach, which made it difficult for children to get to school,” explains Victor. “This construction was very important to me, as we see support for the education of over 100 children”, he added. According to the general coordinator of the Forest Grant Program, Valcleia Solidade, 1,910 families in 109 communities received help with new houses or schools last year. “Our goal is to help around 9.5 thousand families in 2014,” she says.