The Amazon occupies a central position in the world’s biodiversity, as well as playing an important part in the global carbon and water cycles, which affect other regions, including the agricultural centres of Brazil. However, biodiversity research in Amazonia is still in its infancy, it is fragmented and lacks the impact on public policy that its great importance merits. Investment in science in the Brazilian Amazon is restricted, and for many years taxes paid in Amazonia helped pay for research in the south-east of Brazil.
However, the problem is not just a lack of financial resources. There are also not enough researchers in the Amazon to use funding that is available. This leads to a situation where the lack of infrastructure leads to a lack of qualified scientists, and the lack of qualified scientists contributes to low scientific productivity.
INCT-CENBAM is coordinating a network of institutions basin in and beyond the Amazon, all involved in biodiversity studies. The structure of the network differs from existing networks in several innovative and important ways. These are explained below. The term "biodiversity" used here follows the guidelines of the National Biodiversity Policy (Decree No. 4,339 22/08/2002) (BDP), which defines the official position of the Brazilian government in relation to the areas that fall within the remit of this definition. CENBAM’s goal is to create and consolidate production chains based on sound scientific knowledge, chains that originate in biodiversity studies and end with information, products or processes that are of value to specific short, medium and long term users.
CENBAM’s main objective is the integration of Amazonian biodiversity research into efficient and productive scientific-technological chains. It has this focus because, currently, Amazonian biodiversity is being neither conserved nor used efficiently due to the lack of scientific and technological knowledge. The little research that has been done has mostly been concentrated close to major population centers, such as Belém and Manaus. The more remote, regional, centers, away from such focal points, face a vicious cycle of lack of resources, resulting in a lack of long-term research projects and of qualified scientific researchers, which leads to low productivity, which prevents funding from being obtained and so therefore difficulties in training the local population.
If you watch the video below you’ll see the conditions and difficulties encountered with research and biodiversity surveys in remote Amazon locations. It shows the effort and dedication needed by the teams involved in recording the super-high diversity and biological exuberance of these places, most previously totally unknown to science. It’s such collaborations between researchers, research institutes, local residents and agencies which allows the biodiversity research to succeed in some of the least known regions of Brazil. Its immensely hard work, but it’s worth it - but we want to make it more efficient.
INCT-CENBAM trains and educates people in remote areas, at a variety of levels, from school children to field assistants, parataxonomists, laboratory technicians and graduate students. In addition, INCT-CENBAM aims to improve the infrastructure (such as museums, herbaria and living collections, installation and recovery equipment and laboratories) that research and education need, and encourage those scientific exchanges necessary to make efficient use of available resources. Planning and implementation are carried out in collaboration with the those who use the information and materials, such as biotech labs, managers and forest reserves, and with the organizations responsible for environmental impact assessment and monitoring of areas influenced by public works.
Click here and watch the video of the program "Amazonas faz ciência", where the coordinator Willian E Magnusson (Bill) presents the main features of INCT-CENBAM.
As a result, the researchers and students involved in INCT-CENBAM activities produce the maximum value from the societal resources invested in maintaining its research infrastructure and for promoting conservation of Amazonian biodiversity.