The Barrionuevo family created Empresa Brasileira de Conservacao de Florestas (EBCF) in 2009 with the goal of conserving the rainforests of Brazil. EBCF is not a foundation, nor is it an NGO; instead, EBCF is a private company led by Leonardo Barrionuevo. Barrionuevo, who currently serves as president, describes EBCF as, “a private company that works on rainforest conservation and poverty reduction saving the Amazon from deforestation and degradation. EBCF aims to transform 1 million hectares of private forests into conservation unit and a mosaic of Private Reserves for Sustainable Development (RPDS).”
As a private company, EBCF takes a non-traditional approach to forest conservation, operating on a business model that "is directed so that revenues resulting from sponsorship and other activities enable the long-term transition to a self-sustaining model that focuses on generating income from non-timber forest management activities."
EBCF isn’t the only private company operating within the Amazon rainforest, but it is the only company of its kind to focus on conservation efforts in the region. Deforestation is big business in the Amazon, but EBCF chose a different option. In October, Barrionuevo told Global Atlanta, "The unique thing about us is that we were licensed by the government to detimber, to deforest part of the rain forest, but we decided not to."
Barrionuevo explained this decision during an email interview with MNN, "My family decided to invest in the rainforest conservation and biodiversity protection because I work with CDM Projects for The United Nations…and I decided to work with global warming and biodiversity protection as well as poverty reduction."
Since timber has been ruled out as a revenue source, EBCF had to identify other income streams including environmental sponsorship, carbon credits, eco-tourism, scientific research partnerships and the development of new businesses that focus on the sustainable management of non-timber forest products.
Earlier this year, the Amazon State awarded EBCF with the title, “First Private Reserve for Sustainable Development.” The permanent protection of 50,000 acres of Brazilian Amazon rainforest comes with this designation.
EBCF isn’t just focusing on the native flora and fauna within this private reserve space; the company is also working to support the people that live within the rainforest. Part of EBCF’s reserve management plan includes promoting sustainable development in 15 communities within the reserve and the 350 families and more than 1,750 individuals that live in these communities.
One of EBCF’s many people-focused programs is an upcoming medical expedition. Originally scheduled for November 2013, the medical expedition launch date was pushed back to the fourth week of March due to excessive rains in the region. The EBCF medical expedition will be comprised of 15 doctors and nurses and expedition members will visit all of the residents of the 15 communities within the RPDS.
“The goal of this project is to bring basic medical care to the reserves' populations, in order to identify and resolve their health issues. Therefore, it is necessary that in addition to assistance from various medical specialties (general physicians, ophthalmologists, ear nose and throat doctors, gynaecologists, paediatricians, dentists, etc), medications appropriate for the specific cases are brought.”
There are no medical centers in any of the 15 communities and some of the areas that will be served by the medical expedition don’t even have healthcare providers. EBCF has identified the main illnesses in each of the 15 communities. These conditions include viral diseases, dengue fever, malaria, digestive problems, anemia, worm infestation and diabetes.
In addition to condition-specific medications, the expedition team will also be bringing toothbrushes and toothpaste, dental floss, painkillers, anti-fungals and more to the communities.
To learn more about EBCF, visit the English version of the Brazilian company’s website.
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