Nature conservation is not an easy thing to do. There are too many conflicting interests. Those who want to help save trees, bodies of water, maintain air quality, and develop sustainable practices for the sake of endangered fauna and flora species are up against corporations with significant financial interests in exploiting natural resources. Most of the time the battle is not as simple as the naturalist versus the big business slugfest journalists tirelessly report in newspaper and magazines. In many cases the challenge lies beyond the mining permits and the logging concessions, because indigenous people are left without a stable source of livelihood if environmental groups and naturalists will have their way. In the case of the Amazon Rainforest, the wanton destruction of a tropical paradise is also the consequence of indifference, because the local inhabitants were never captivated of an idea or vision of how the Amazon Rainforest can become an object of pride. The Brazilian government and the stakeholders that live and do business within the Amazon river system must emulate how the Americans developed their national parks, because they must embrace an out-of-the-box thinking to effectively end the deforestation of the prized Brazilian rainforest.
U.S. National Parks as Templates
Some of the breathtaking national parks in the United States of America, such as the Yellow Stone, Acadia, and the Olympic in Washington are well known to many people all over the world. These major landmarks attract tourists by the hundreds of thousands each year. The government’s tourism drive has always been a success in this type of tourist spots. As a result, a lot of people are very pleased by the kind of business it generates, and the number of jobs created when visitors come, take pictures, and buy souvenirs that they bring home with them to their hometowns or their nation of origin. As friends, relatives, and acquaintances back home welcome them back and marvel at the items they brought with them, this interaction creates another wave of visitors to the parks the following year.
In the discussion of national parks, the first thing that comes to mind is not just the money generated by the tourism industry in these areas, but also the fact that large swaths of land had been declared a special landmark. Therefore, there is no zoning law or any local government that will one day transforms these areas into strip malls, suburbs, parking areas, federal buildings, or dumpsites. These areas are safe from any type of man-made activity, especially the kind that comes with real estate development or some kind of commercialization.
If the animals, birds, wild flowers, and insects can talk they would express gratitude that in the land of prosperity certain areas were considered protected against the powerful forces coming from the corporate world. For example in one national park a visitor has the chance to handle with his bare hands and to witness with his own eyes a spectacular tree species that is at least one thousand years old. It is not only the discerning tourist that gets to enjoy these natural wonders. The botanists and biologists given access to these magnificent plant and animal species will always be grateful that a government-backed initiative has created a conservation effort that ensures the survival of unique organisms to be enjoyed by the future generations of stewards taking care of the national park and enjoying their bounties. Therefore, it is easy to make the mistake that the primary purpose of establishing the first ever U.S. national parks was due to conservation purposes.
One can make the assertion that the rationale for creating the first few U.S. national parks was not for the conservation of natural resources. It is easy to make this assertion because the law that mandated the creation of the world-renowned landmarks was ratified and implemented in a time before the TV set became a popular household item. In other words, these parks were established a long time ago. It was President Theodore Roosevelt, who made it happen. Therefore, these things were initiated before the time when people became conscious of the natural world. During that particular time period in human history, there were many areas in the world that wild animals dominate and the main concern was not overpopulation but the lack of residents in certain remote areas.
Roosevelt understood the insecurity of the American people when they compare their nation to that of the Old World in Europe. In comparison to the old nations of Europe, America lacks the cultural sophistication of England, France, and Germany. No matter how hard Roosevelt tried it was just impossible to have museums and medieval architectural works as grand as those on the other side of the Atlantic. Thus, he decided that America will create its own version of important landmarks and he came up with the brilliant idea of using America’s great landscapes and vast lands as the objects of pride. According to one report: “Roosevelt turned the vast landscapes of the West into the ultimate expression of American esthetic and moral values … Yellow Stone was America's cathedra; El Capitan, its princely castle, the towering redwood of the Pacific Northwest its belfries”. The same principle can be applied to the Amazon.
Applying Insights to the Amazon Rain Forest Problem
One can argue that if Roosevelt’s motivation for creating national parks was for the purpose of something abstract like stewardship of the land or conservation of natural resources, the people that work under him and the citizens of the U.S. that he served may not have been more enthusiastic as compared to the reaction when they heard that the ultimate purpose of creating national parks was for America’s identity.
The same approach is needed to solve the serious problem of deforestation that has affected the ecosystem at the Amazon Rain Forest. It is imperative to use out-of-the-box thinking, and the best place to start is to develop an inspiring idea on how to get everyone involved. The best way to go forward is to showcase the Amazon Rainforest as the centerpiece of a life-changing project for all the stakeholders and the inhabitants living within the said area. The government must look into the rainforest of the Amazon and figure out what is unique, something that they can offer the world and change the way the international community views Brazil.
A Farm for Plant-Based Pharmacology
Consider for instance that Taxol, the world's most popular anti-cancer drug is a substance that is derived from the bark of a tree. The compound that was used to derive Taxol has taken the medical world by storm. For instance, the drug has been proven to be successful against ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and non-small cell lung cancer. In addition, Taxol was also found to be effective against Kaposi's sarcoma. Furthermore, the success of the drug has not yet known its limits because scientists all over the world are still studying its healing properties. The success of this medicine in the United States alone has been staggering, because the company Bristol-Myers Squibb already amassed at least $1.2 billion dollars in sales.
If Taxol was taken from a single tree, Brazilians should be excited to know that the Amazon Rainforest is one of the most biologically diverse places in the planet. If a wonder drug is hidden in plant species, surely one or several are yet waiting to be discovered within the Amazon jungle. Using this information, the Brazilian government must start writing up laws and implementing the same in order to develop a government and private partnership that will create the biggest plant-based pharmacological endeavor in the planet.
It is important to bring in all the stakeholders, all the influential leaders in the area, and the technical experts all over the world. A collaboration and partnership must be undertaken to cordon off and come under protection vast areas of the Amazon rainforest for the purpose of research.
Everyone gets involved. The problem with sustainability and livelihood are no longer serious issues if indigenous people groups become part of the protection and harvesting component of the business. A great number of individuals will be inspired to participate and they will work hard to make the project succeed, because it is not a boring and mindless endeavor. It is not like the other projects that came and went in the past. Consider the dull impact of a reforestation scheme. People who participated in the reforestation projects of the not so distant past earn meager incomes planting seedlings. However, the most discouraging aspect of the old type of conservation schemes was that there was no clear goal and there were no contingencies in place that monitors the development of the project. Therefore, a lot of resources had gone to waste.
The type of project that provides the groundwork for the largest plant-based pharmacological endeavor in human history does not only energize the communities involved, the men and women hired to participated will feel a great deal of satisfaction, and since there is a business side to the endeavor they can expect a greater level of compensation. Moreover, the real incentive comes later on when the workers, volunteers and participants can see the long-lasting impact of the said project.
A well-developed plan that is implemented in the most appropriate manner will bear results. The researches and scientists that are involved in the project are augmented by support staff help and other workers with clear assignments and responsibilities. Thus, as the research phase of the project continues, the conservation aspect of the venture is also initiated. At the end, the stakeholders and the indigenous people groups will work hand-in-hand in order to sustain the project. They will contribute and work harder because they know that they too will benefit from the said project.
It is a great idea to look into the circumstances that surrounded the establishment of U.S. national parks, because of the track record and the enormous success these parks had generated all throughout the years since its inception. As a result, the implementation of the project that gave birth to the parks had contributed significantly to the improvement of the conservation of natural resources in this area. It is good to point this out because conservation efforts are always problematic. When it was discovered that the national parks were not created on the basis of conservation but in aid of building an identity for a relatively young nation, it gave rise to the idea that it is much better to inspire stakeholders, local inhabitants and government executives to think differently in creating solutions. It is better to inspire them to work because their efforts will bring about a major transformation in the pharmaceutical industry. The creation of a sophisticated and government sponsored project in the Amazon will encourage everyone to join on board.