BELEM AND NEW YORK, — Alcoa Aluminio, the aluminum manufacturer's Latin American affiliate, has created a partnership with the environmental group Conservation International to support conservation of wildlife species in Brazil's Amazon Basin.

Working between the Tapajós and Madeira Rivers, in the West of Pará State and the East of Amazonas State, Alcoa has dedicated $1 million over the next five years to create and implement conservation strategies in one of the world's most biodiverse regions.

The initiative is an expansion of a partnership that begin in 2004. Conservation International has been working with Alcoa in Brazil for three years to conserve species in the Amazon National Park in Itaituba, in Pará. "The success of this experiment led to Conservation International, Alcoa and the Alcoa Foundation working together to draw up a program that would also benefit other conservation units in the region," explains José Maria Cardoso da Silva, vice-president of Science for CI-Brasil.

He added that the groups have seen the effectiveness of working with managers of the conservation units and providing the community with information, training, and technical and financial resources, it is possible to change behaviors and, in no time at all, create a positive movement to conserve the biodiversity in the region.

"Alcoa has a commitment to the sustainable use of natural resources. Through dialogue with the community, promoted everywhere the company operates, but especially when introducing the Juruti Mine in Pará, we are sharing in building a sustainable enterprise that also seeks to conserve biodiversity. The actual implementation of the conservation units that will benefit from the Conservation Program is one of the greatest legacies we can leave for the society of the Amazon," states Franklin L. Feder, president of Alcoa Latin America.

In the first phase of the program, five conservation units have been selected as priorities for investment: the Tapajós-Arapiuns Hunting and Gathering Reserve, Amazon National Park, Pau Rosa National Forest, Maués State Forest and the Amaná National Forest. These units are practically inter-connected and form the nucleus of a new Biodiversity Corridor in the Amazon that covers almost 10 million hectares (nearly 25 million acres) and is spread over the municipalities of Juruti (PA), Maués (AM), Santarém (PA), Aveiro (PA) and Itaituba (PA).

The Program will be divided into four components. The aim of the first component is to carry out a diagnosis of the situation of the five conservation units to identify the priority actions for each of them. A detailed institutional map will be created to understand the perceptions of local society with regard to these units and the technical capacity that already exists in the region for the development of conservation projects.

The second component is to support the implementation of the five priority conservation units by allocating technical and financial resources to the unit managers. The managers must submit projects for evaluation and, if approved, they will receive support from the Program.

The third aspect of the Conservation Program is aimed at training local individuals and institutions to develop conservation and sustainable development programs through courses and seminars.

Finally, the fourth component aims to provide technical and financial support for the individuals and institutions that have been trained in accordance with the previous component, so that they may develop their own environmental projects.

"The first and second components of the Biodiversity Conservation Support Program for the Tapajós-Madeira region will be developed during 2007, while the others will start in 2008. CI-Brasil and Alcoa will create a support mechanism for implementation of the conservation units that already exist in this area. The activities will be carried out by environmental bodies with the collaboration of local society," says Maurício Born, Alcoa's Health, Safety, Environment and Sustainability Manager.