As one of the largest states in the Brazilian Legal Amazon, Pará boasts a vibrant, colourful, and eye-opening landscape across its 144 municipalities. But none is quite so interesting as the municipality of Portel, located on Marajo Island with more than 59 thousands inhabitants, paradisical beaches, and endless tourist activity during the high season. And it is this municipality which characterises much of AFP’s work in the Amazon.
Spanning 25km² in size, with the land mass cut by several rivers tributaries such as the Anapu, Camapari, Pacajá and Acutipereira rivers, Portel is home to several communities – each with different ethnicities, different stories, and different ways of life. These communities include the traditional indigenous peoples, quilombolas, and Ribeirinhos people, with the main source of income for the people of the region coming from ecotourism – but here at AFP, we look beyond what’s on the surface and work to identify and highlight the traits which make these communities different.
Portel’s Tourist Landscape
As a riverside region of exuberant natural beauty, the waterways surrounding Portel are often busy – utilized by locals and tourists alike for activities such as water sports, observation of native fauna and flora, sport fishing and other activities that drive the region’s economy.
Another attraction of the region is its cuisine. As is seen across the entire Amazon region, the cuisine is broadly natural and derives mainly from the diets of the indigenous peoples- presenting fantastic gastronomic combinations of fruit – such as Uxi – and fish – catfish and tamuatá – traditional to the region.
Portel, as well as the region of Ilha do Marajó, also presents a vast artisanal production line of ceramic pieces, wood, vinesand seeds. For those visiting, folk dances such as carimbó, lundu and the June dances are also part of the culture of the traditional peoples of Portel.
But despite its environmental, cultural and population wealth, Portel remains highly affected by the low Human Development Index in the region, as evidenced in socioeconomic inequality, violence, the precarious situation of basic sanitation, and a lack of access to health and education.
Aside from these widespread issues, specific problems such as agrarian conflicts, illegal mining activity, and many other problems, have culminated in Portel being recognised as the second lowest ranked city in terms of social progress. Portel also ranks ninth in relation to deforestation across the entire Legal Amazon region – a fact which indicates and exacerbates not only environmental but social damages.
Amazon Forest People and Portel
It is because of the widespread socio-environmental vulnerabilities that Amazon Forest People chose Portel.Partnering with the communities who call Portel home, we are working to develop projects which directly support the development of the region – integrating environmental, economic, and social development for the benefit of the entire region.
A large part of this is promoting sustainable growth for the Amazon and its peoples, based on the 17 SDGs of the United Nations.