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The Elements of Typographic Style

Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Pullover

Minding the Earth, Mending the Word: Zen and the Art of Planetary Crisis

North Face Base Camp Duffel (Medium)




Entries in Brazil (10)


Lunch Choices

So we had just stopped for lunch after running inventory transects in the Tapajós-Arapiuns Extractive Reserve (see Tapajós-Arapiuns). And it had been raining all morning. And it looked like we were going to eat in an agricultural field that had just been burned and everything you touched was black and ashy. And then somebody (don't really remember who) took a picture, and it seems clear that I was not too happy about the lunch choices. [NOTE: I do, however, remember this field crew. What a fantastic group of guys].


Bikes at the Basecamp

During the forest inventory work in the Tapajós-Arapiuns Extractive Reserve (see Tapajós-Arapiuns), the field crews from the village of Surucua rode bicycles to the base camp. Certainly sped everything up. [NOTE: They loaned me an old clunky one to use, but the brakes were so bad that I ended up walking most of the way].


Net Casting

Fisherman casting his net in a side channel of the Tapajós River in the Brazilian Amazon. [NOTE: Sorry about the camera shake.  I was bobbing up and down in a small boat just like the one the fisherman was in (thx, Antonio Jose).]


Strangler Fig

Slow pan up the trunk of a large tree in the Tapajós-Arapiuns Extractive Reserve in Brazil that is starting to be engulfed by a strangler fig. Several steps are involved here. Bird eats a fig (only certain species of Ficus are stranglers), later poops out the seed, seed germinates in the crown of a tree, young seedling starts sending roots down from the canopy to the soil, i.e. it is a hemiepiphyte. Once the roots enter the soil things speed up. Strangler starts producing a lot of leaves in the crown of the host tree, sends down (many) more roots, and these roots start to coalesce around the trunk of the tree.  Tree wants to grow in diameter. Strangler wants a solid column to support its rapidly expanding crown. Host tree loses.   


Tree Art

Tapping scars on the trunks of Hevea brasiliensis (Willd. ex Adr. de Juss) Muell. -Arg.) trees outside of the village of Surucuá in the Tapajós-Arapiuns Extractive Reserve in Brazil (see Tapajós-Arapiuns). [NOTE: It has been estimated that some 50,000 different products are made from rubber. Wonderfully thorough discussion of this important NTFP in J.W. Purseglove's Tropical Crops


Floresta Nacional do Tapajós

This shot was taken across the river from the Tapajós-Arapiuns Extractive Reserve in Brazil where I was working with several caboclo communities to develop forest management plans for their furniture workshops (see Tapajós - Arapiuns). Across the river from the extractive reserve is the Floresta Nacional do Tapajós, i.e. the Tapajós National Forest. This is what it looks like in some places inside the national forest. Pastures, backpack herbicide sprayers, and hardhats. A little piece of forest is visible in the background on the right.


Size Matters

Big trees tend to slow down inventory operations.  Everyone stops and takes a moment to appreciate a really large individual, and it can take a bit longer to adjust the d-tape around the trunk. Seems like you find more big trees early in the morning.  Those you encounter late in the day - when everyone is tired - are invariably "out of the plot". Funny how that happens. [NOTES: The impressive tree in the video is Caryocar villosum, or piquía. Antonio Jose announces that the tree has a circumference of 758.2 cm, i.e. a diameter of almost 2.5 m.


The Toucan and the Jambu Tree

I came across a channel-billed toucan (Ramphastus vitellinus) preening in a jambu tree (Syzygium malaccensis) near the village of Pini in the Floresta Nacional do Tapajós, Brazil. Worth filming.


Oficinas Caboclas do Tapajós (B&W)

The forest inventories conducted outside of Nugini involved several generations.  The older men knew the names and uses of several hundred trees, but they were also very interested in learning the ways of the younger guys, e.g. d-tapes and hardhats (thx, Iona).

All of the furniture produced by OCT is made exclusively using hand tools (thx, Toby).



Several caboclo communities in the Tapajós-Arapiuns Extractive Reserve wanted to start a small furniture business using selected timbers from the forest.  To do so, they needed to prepare and submit a formal management plan to IBAMA, the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Natural Resources.  They had no idea how to do this.  I did, however, and so in mid-2004, in collaboration with IPAM and with support from the Overbrook Foundation, I started working with a couple of communities in the reserve to collect the baseline data needed to write a management plan.

The video was shot during the forest inventory and growth analysis work conducted by villagers from Nugini. The fieldwork involved 18 people who worked for 8 days, encountered 5 poisonous snakes, established 1,000 sample plots, and counted and measured 3,452 trees from 42 different species. More information about the Oficinas Caboclas do Tapajos and their forestry operations within the Tapajós-Arapiuns Extractive Reserve can be found here or here.

[NOTE: The management plan for Nugini was submitted to IBAMA and approved, and the community is now harvesting furniture woods from a 100 hectare management area on a sustained-yield basis.]