Ilhas de Belém (Belém Islands)


Project Management

Federal University of Pará (UFPA) and the Research Development
and Support Foundation (FADESP)

Territorial Scope

State of Pará


Those that perform public policy in territorial management, population living on the islands that surround the city of Belém and the UFPA


(i) to implement a methodology to help establish economic and environmental zoning on a local scale for the islands surrounding the
city of Belém; and (ii) to expand the research infrastructure in the Graduate Programme in Water and Fishing Ecology at UFPA

Total Cost of the Project

R$ 1,138,083.93

Amazon Fund Support

R$ 1,138,083.93
(US$ 638,082.49)

Estimated Completion Date

30 months (from the date the contract was signed)


Progress of the project


Date approved


Date awarded


1st disbursement on 11.16.2012

R$ 620.525,19

2nd disbursement on 2.17.2014

R$ 258.779,35

3rd disbursement on 3.13.2015

R$ 258,779.37

Total amount disbursed

R$ 1,138,083.91

Total amount disbursed in relation to the Amazon Fund’s support


Project manager’s site:


The islands of Mosqueiro, Cotijuba, Onças and Combu, near the city of Belém, are located in an intermediate area of the Amazon river estuary, i.e., the point where the fresh water (at the southern region of the Guajará Bay and to the right of the Guamá River) meets the salt water (to the north of Belém, adjacent to the city of Colares). This area contains rivers, tidal channels (“igarapés” – streams), forests, floodplains, bays, marshlands and beaches. Most of the population lives on the riverbanks and survive by hunting, gathering and fishing. The region is part of the local economy, mainly acting as a supplier of primary products.

The islands of Combu and Onças are characterized by lowland environments, therefore most of the population’s income is generated by açaí berries and, to a lesser extent, the growing cacao and also shrimp fishing. Fishing is mainly practiced for food purposes, representing the local population’s main source of animal protein. The islands of Mosqueiro Cotijuba are the main sources of soils and land, therefore this is where it is more common to practice agriculture (growing cassava and vegetables), in addition to small-scale artisanal fisheries and tourism.


There are two main objectives for the Belém Islands project: (i) to implement a methodology to support the development of economic and environmental zoning on a local scale on the islands in the surrounding area of Belém (islands of Mosqueiro, Cotijuba, Onças and Combu); and (ii) to expand the research infrastructure of the Graduate Programme in Water and Fishing Ecology (PPGEAP) at the Federal University of Pará (UFPA).

The project will adopt a multi-criteria analytical methodology using a Geographical Information System (SIG), in which the relevant factors are georeferenced. This region was also subject to biological and socioeconomic data surveys. The results of this data were detailed information regarding the local economy, farming skills and reproduction and fish feeding zones, among other aspects that are on the maps. Maps indicating the areas of priority for environmental conservation and sustainable development were generated, as were specific recommendations for each island.

At the end of the research project, in order to promote the expanded scope of the project’s results, participatory workshops/meetings were held with community members to present the project’s results and an educational booklet, using language that would be understood by the islands’ population.

In relation to the objective of expanding the research infrastructure of the PPGEAP-UFPA, a new 200 m2 laboratory was built and equipped in order to conduct research supported by the project and further research about the sustainable development of fishing and aquatic ecology.


This project falls within the “scientific and technological development” (4) component of the logical framework of the Amazon Fund. The outcome of this component is to ensure that the scientific, technological and innovative activities contribute to the recovery, conservation and sustainable use in the Amazon biome.

The project had the following outcomes: “produced and disseminated knowledge and technology related to aquatic ecology and fishing aimed at the sustainable use of the Amazon biome” (4.1) and “produced and disseminated socioeconomic, environmental and technological knowledge aimed at regional scale land-use planning in the main islands surrounding the city of Belém (Pará)” (4.3). Achieving these aims involved the project
providing assistance in the land-use planning of the estuary region, reconciling socioeconomic needs to the ecological and biological reality of the islands surrounding the city of Belém (Pará) and generating knowledge related to aquatic ecology and fishing, all aimed at the sustainable use of the Amazon biome. These results should contribute to the landuse planning of these islands and generate income for local populations based on sustainable economic activities, another result being the conservation of biodiversity, including the native vegetation.

CLICK HERE to view its objectives tree, that is, how the project's outputs are linked to the expected outcomes and impacts.

Árvore de Objetivos - UFPA Ilhas de Belém_ENGLISH














The research involved collecting socioeconomic and environmental data on the four islands covered by the project. 332 interviews were held with the local community, covering issues such as riverside food (nutritional analysis), income sources and flows (economic analysis) and information on health, education and land use.

Four campaigns were performed in order to collect the biological data, which resulted in 64 samples of fish and crayfish from the igarapés (tidal channels) of these islands. Information on richness, diversity, distribution pattern of individuals among species, young rearing and breeding were obtained from the collected material. All the data were georeferenced, so that they could be processed in a Geographic Information System (GIS) and statistical software.

The collected data were processed by GIS and statistical software, the results from which being priority maps that characterized the four islands, based on five indexes: (i) social development priority index, built by combining the infrastructural, educational and health attributes; (ii) terrestrial conservation priority index, built based on indicators of the use and occupation of the land and the quantification of the existing protected areas on each island; (iii) crustacean conservation priority index, based on a combination of biological and ecological indicators regarding the crustacean fauna; (iv) ichthyofauna conservation priority index, established with basis on the caught fish; and (v) aquatic fauna conservation priority index, defined upon the integration of biological and ecological indicators of fish and shellfish caught on the islands.

Knowledge was disseminated by means of: (i) production and distribution of a booklet containing knowledge generated by the project to the local communities in understandable terms; (ii) meetings held to disseminate research results with the Brazilian Environmental Secretary of the State of Pará, the Chico Mendes Biodiversity Conservation Institute (ICMBIO), the Belém Municipal Secretariat of the Environment, the Pará State Secretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the State Public Ministry and the Socioenvironmental and Water Management Institute (ISARH) at the Federal Rural University of the Amazon (UFRA); (iii) participation at the XXI Brazilian Meeting of Ichthyology, in 2015; and (iv) scientific production of master’s dissertations and publication in scientific journals.

The project involved the construction of a new 200 m2 building to house the Laboratory of Biological Research and Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management. Additionally, new equipment necessary to the research were purchased, such as a GPS (global positioning system), multi-parameter water quality meter, digital camera, plotter and horizontal freezer. 


The research was coordinated by the PPGEAP-UFPA team, who worked with other groups from this University to assist the scientific production. The following partnering teams deserve special mention: Geography Course at the Institute of Philosophy and Human Sciences, Graduate Programme for the Science and the Environment, Coastal Studies Institute, School of Biological Sciences and the Graduate Programme in Environmental Biology, the last two teams were from UFPA’s Braganza campus.

Fifteen researchers were involved in the project’s execution in the region. According to data from 2015, UFPA has 4,865 employees, composed of professors, researchers and other employees, 52% of whom are women. 50% of the total number of individuals performing a coordinating role at the UFPA are women. Also, based on data from 2015, the Brazilian Foundation for Research Support and Development (FADESP), which is the supporting
foundation responsible for the project’s financial management, employs 88 individuals, 56% of which are women, and 73% of the coordinating roles are performed by women too.


The project’s activities contributed towards the results of the “scientific and technological development” (4) component of the logical framework of the Amazon Fund. 


Outcome 4.1: “Produced and disseminated knowledge and technology related to aquatic ecology and fishing aimed at the sustainable use of the Amazon biome”

Outcome 4.3: “Produced and disseminated socioeconomic, environmental and technological knowledge aimed at regional scale land-use planning in the main islands surrounding the city of Belém (Pará)”

The project’s main indicators are listed below:

  • Number of new products and technological processes developed related to territorial management (output indicator)

The data collected during the research generated five priority maps concerning the four islands covered by the project. Among other aspects, these maps depicted the distribution of anthropogenic activities on the islands, as well as the identification and size of the degraded areas; the good condition of the islands’ channels or igarapés; and the great environmental importance of these environments for maintaining the aquatic fauna.

The maps developed from the research were presented by the project’s coordination during discussions held by the Pará State Public Ministry regarding the case of the ‘Baía do Sol’ Colony of Fishermen (Mosqueiro island) pertaining to the deployment of closed season insurance (compensation paid to artisanal fisherman forbidden to fish during the period when it is prohibited to fish for certain species).

  • Number of educational or informational publications (output indicators)

A booklet, presented in a language understandable to the region’s population, was produced with the objectives of summarizing the results from the studies performed during the project’s execution. The booklet was designed as an educational instrument to disseminate information on environmental preservation to all interested parties. Around 1000 copies of this booklet were distributed.

  • Number of participations at integrating events (seminars and forums) held to disseminate the knowledge produced (output indicators)

The project’s team participated in two events to disseminate knowledge from the project, namely: the XXI Brazilian Meeting of Ichthyology (Recife – Pernambuco, 1st to 6th of February, 2015) and the 55th Conference of Estuarine Coastal Sciences Association (London – England, 6th to 9th of September, 2015). 

  • Number of published theses and scientific articles focused on territorial management and the sustainable use of the Amazon biome (impact indicator)

The research resulted in the production of two master’s dissertations, two undergraduate research projects and an article published in a journal, as well as a master’s thesis still being developed. In addition to the knowledge produced, the project contributed to the consolidation of the first master’s and PhD programmes on ecology in the state of Pará, creating qualified human resources for activities in the Amazon region.

Based on the development of new knowledge regarding the social, economic and environmental aspects on the four islands covered by the project, the construction of expanded facilities of the Laboratory of Biological Research and Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management, the dissemination of the acquired knowledge, the first impacts from discussing public policy and academic studies produced as a result of the research, it is possible to conclude that the project achieved its objectives.


The importance of incorporating the support of local actors with the project, such as community agents and association representatives, was the main lesson learned. This support proved to be essential for involving the river community in the research and subsequently disseminating its results. The community agents were responsible for establishing the days and times of the meetings between the river population and the researchers, since they understand the local daily activities, which means that the meetings were well attended. For example, having a close relationship with the local population guaranteed that the meetings were held in places
such as the Municipal School on the island of Onças, which is one of the few places on the island that has electrical energy, and the Headquarters of the Colony of Fishermen from the island of Mosqueiro.


The project was helpful in terms of planning and zoning for the islands surrounding the city of Belém in the Amazon estuary, indicating the areas that should be considered priorities for conservation and social development policies. Any future developments that could arise from the research results depend on the knowledge produced by the competent public agencies being properly applied and on the ability to mobilize the local population,
who themselves participated in the research and have access to its results.

Additionally, the socioeconomic, environmental and biological knowledge generated by the project can be used in other research in various areas of knowledge, as can the methodology used in the project, which is based on a multi-criteria analysis and can be replicated in similar projects in the Amazon region.

Finally, the Laboratory of Biological Research and Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management at UFPA, which was expanded and equipped for the project, has already been used for several other lines of research by UFPA, while new technological products and processes aimed at the sustainable use of the Amazon biome are expected.