Community-based management strategies for biocultural diversity conservation

Bahia, Brazil

In Brazil, we work with Pataxó people who are managing the Reserva da Jaqueira in the state of Bahia, located on the south-central Atlantic coast.


The first official information regarding the Pataxó people dates from 1808, when officials reported to the colonial power successive attacks made by indigenous groups. In 1817 Prince Maximilian Wied-Neuwied mentioned this specific ethnic group. In 1861 all the ethnic groups in the region were forcibly concentrated in one place (where Barra Velha village was developed), approximately 90 km from Coroa Vermelha. After a long period of isolation, two episodes motivated the process of migration which marked the Pataxó return to ancestral lands: an episode of police repression after a incident involving two burglars in 1951; and the creation of the Parque Nacional do Monte Pascoal (Monte Pascoal National Park) in 1961. Both, in different ways, rendered the life of Pataxó families concentrated in Barra Velha increasingly difficult.

The indigenous village of Coroa Vermelha was established in 1972, in a place marked by the historical monument of the First Catholic Mass held in Brazil. Because of its importance for national history, the location was rapidly developed as a tourist attraction. The presence of an indigenous group in this highly symbolic location represented an advantage for the government itself; in 1997 the federal government officially recognized the indigenous territory (1,493 hectares).    

Since its establishment 40 years ago, the demographic change within Coroa Vermelha has been extreme: from 235 people in 1985, it had increased to 3,979 people in 2007, reaching approximately 5,000 people by 2012. This number increases throughout the summer period due to the seasonal migration of Pataxó individuals/families from other villages to take advantage of the touristic market.


Pataxó handcraft market in Jaqueira Reserve

In 1998 a group of families of Coroa Vermelha founded the Reserva da Jaqueira, a forest reserve area of 827 hectares (taken from the total area occupied by the Coroa Vermelha indigenous territory). The Reserva da Jaqueira is located between municipalities of Porto Seguro and Santa Cruz Cabrália and is almost completely embedded within the Environmental Protection Area (APA) of Coroa Vermelha (Área de Proteção Ambiental da Coroa Vermelha), created in 1993. It is approximately 2.8 km from Santo Antonio APA in the North, which covers over 50 km of land along the coast in southern Bahia. The National Park of Pau Brazil is approximately 17.5 km southwest of the Reserve and about 25km south of the latter, one finds the APA Caraíva Trancoso . Thus, the Reserva da Jaquiera is part of a complex mosaic of protected areas that is recognized as having high historical and ecological relevance for the region - and, as such, belongs to an area classified as Open Museum of Discovery - yet that remains comparatively understudied.