Responding to Deforestation: Productive Conservation, the World Bank, and Beekeeping in Rondonia, Brazil
Productive conservation, a sustainable development concept for the Amazon, ideally leads to economic development in rural areas with conservation of rain forest ecosystems. This study evaluates the human and environmental dynamics of productive conservation in Rondonia, Brazil, using as a case study beekeeping, which has been promoted by the World Bank-funded Rondonia Natural Resources Development Project. Promoters of beekeeping have given little attention to basic ecological or political economic issues that determine whether the practice contributes to ideals of productive conservation. While beekeeping can generate significant increases in household income, beekeeping cooperatives may become overdependent on donor funds. Once the flow of productive conservation donor funds stops, organizations may fail, making it too difficult for beekeepers to maintain their operations. Beekeeping does not lead directly toward rain forest conservation. Moreover, beekeeping almost exclusively employs introduced Africanized “killer” bees, commercially exploitable in the Amazon only because deforestation has temporarily created suitable habitats for them. Given the human and environmental configuration of beekeeping in Rondonia, the paper suggests ways to direct beekeeping toward accomplishing the goals of productive conservation.