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Small Eco-Social Projects in the Amazon

Society, Population and Nature Institute (ISPN)

Project official website
Total project value
R$ 17,796,525.00
Total support amount
US$ 6,441,809.37



Hold four public calls to select and fund small socioenvironmental projects aimed at traditional communities, indigenous people and family farmers in the Amazon biome areas in the states of Mato Grosso, Tocantins and Maranhão


Traditional communities, indigenous people and family farmers in the Amazon biome

Territorial scope

Amazon biome areas in the states of Mato Grosso, Tocantins and Maranhão




The project presented by Society, Population and Nature Institute (ISPN) expanded the Small Eco-social Projects Program (PPP-Ecos) to the Amazon biome. Since 1994, PPP-Ecos existed in the Cerrado biome, supporting, through public calls, small socioenvironmental projects aimed at traditional communities, indigenous people and family farmers.

From 2013, PPP-Ecos also began to operate in the Amazon biome, with support of the Amazon Fund, and in the Caatinga biome, through the Global Environment Facility (GEF). 

In 2019, the ISPN transformed PPP-Ecos into an institutional strategy called Eco-social Productive Landscapes (PPP-ECOS). This strategy seeks to combine environmental conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity with income generation and food security in traditional communities, thus contributing to productive and preserved territories.

ISPN is a nonprofit civil association, founded in April 1990, based in Brasilia.


The Small Eco-social Projects in the Amazon held public calls to fund small socioenvironmental projects aimed at traditional communities, indigenous peoples and family farmers in Amazon biome areas, in transition regions with the Cerrado biome, in the states of Mato Grosso, Tocantins and Maranhão.

Through these public calls, 88 projects from 77 nonprofit associations and community-based cooperatives were selected in two categories of support: (i) small projects, up to R$ 60,000.00 each, to support community-based organizations, including those with little experience in project management; and (ii) consolidation projects of up to R$ 90,000.00 each, to support experienced organizations or for continuity, expansion and replication of projects with positive results and impacts.


The project falls under the “Sustainable Production” (1) component of the Amazon Fund’s Logical Framework. Its direct effects were defined as follows: 1.1 “activities for sustainable use of the forest and biodiversity identified and developed in community associations”; 1.2 “local production arrangements of strengthened agroextractive products, lead by community associations”; and 1.3 “expanded managerial and technical capacity for implementing eco-social projects together with traditional populations.”

The projects of partner organizations supported by PPP-Ecos with resources from the Amazon Fund contributed to strengthen the region’s sociobiodiversity product chains, such as Brazil nuts, babassu, pupunha, various fruit pulps, honey and other bee products and handicrafts. The actions supported contributed to the valorization of the standing forest, by promoting income generation for local populations with environmental sustainability, thus contributing to the Amazon Fund’s overall objective of “reducing deforestation with sustainable development in the Brazilian Amazon.”

Click on the following image to view its objectives tree, that is, how the project's outputs and linked to the expected outcomes and impact.



Date of approval 07.03.2012
Date of the contract 09.25.2012
Date of conclusion 10.01.2020
Disbursement period 64 months (from the date the contract was signed)


date amount
1º disbursements 11.09.2012 R$579,400.00
2º disbursements 08.08.2013 R$848,000.00
3º disbursements 11.11.2013 R$914,050.00
4º disbursements 12.17.2013 R$585,932.70
5º disbursements 02.26.2014 R$750,000.00
6º disbursements 09.12.2014 R$635,536.45
7º disbursements 10.10.2014 R$319,256.00
8º disbursements 11.26.2014 R$148,357.00
9º disbursements 05.27.2015 R$750,000.00
10º disbursements 06.23.2015 R$825,102.00
11º disbursements 07.20.2015 R$359,247.00
12º disbursements 10.16.2015 R$114,100.00
13º disbursements 02.25.2016 R$299,476.36
14º disbursements 03.28.2016 R$1,773,721.55
15º disbursements 04.26.2016 R$418,024.44
16º disbursements 06.27.2016 R$119,724.00
17º disbursements 07.27.2016 R$114,974.80
18º disbursements 11.14.2016 R$88,573.70
19º disbursements 12.13.2016 R$700,000.00
20º disbursements 02.22.2017 R$1,300,000.00
21º disbursements 07.26.2017 R$1,200,000.00
22º disbursements 07.14.2020 -R$28,784.62
Total amount disbursed R$12,814,691.38

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



Four public calls were held to select projects totaling approximately R$ 6 million. The project funded 88 projects, with a total amount of up to R$ 90,000 per project, being 33 projects in the state of Maranhão, 38 in the state of Mato Grosso and 17 in the state of Tocantins.

Concurrent to the public call, an action was developed to disseminate PPP-Ecos in the regions covered by the project. To this end, regional project development workshops were organized; to massify communication, from the third call the project started hosting radio programs as well.

In this context, a partnership was established with the radio program “Natureza Viva” of Brazil Communication Company (EBC), a federal public company, aiming to give even greater disclosure to the notices. The radio program conducted reports and interviews on stories of those who have already benefited from PPP-ECOS in previous notices and, by implementing these small projects, changed the reality of their communities.

The following is a summary of the themes and activities of the 88 projects supported by PPP-Ecos, as well as the activities developed directly by ISPN to technically and administratively manage PPP-Ecos.

The actions implemented by the small projects supported by PPP-Ecos covered processing activities of sociobiodiversity products such as fruits, babassu, pupunha, Brazil nuts, guarana etc., in addition to the development of bee products. Support was also given to projects focused on agroecology and environmental recovery.

Noteworthy actions developed on the theme of processing and commercialization of sociobiodiversity products were: holding family agriculture fairs; implementing fruit pulp processing units; acquiring machinery to cut, peel and process babassu; structuring babassu oil processing units; renovating and expanding guarana processing unit; offering training to improve the production of local handicrafts and build a house exclusively for its commercialization.

We can also mention: acquiring vehicles for product transportation; structuring community kitchens for processing fruit and other family farming products; holding workshops on access to institutional markets; developing and executing business plans for products; developing visual identity and manufacturing labels and packaging.

Beekeeping (European bee/apis mellifera and native stingless bees) involved: training in melipona management and honey processing; exchanges between beekeepers of stingless bees; provision of technical advice to honey-producing families; distribution of sets of beekeeping tools (boxes, overalls, beeswax, bee smokers and pollen collectors); acquisition and settlement of new hives and construction and structuring of honey extraction houses, with maturation tanks, collection tanks, funnels and filters.

On the theme of agroecology and environmental recovery were carried out, among other activities: recovery of degraded areas; strengthening of permanent protected areas (APP) with fruit species; implementation of homegardens; structuring of simplified nurseries; installation of irrigation and fences in the yards; protection of springs with fences; preservation and management of bacuri (fruit tree) areas; consortium production of vegetables and fruits with babassu; implementation of agroforestry systems; training in ecological pasture management and implementation of demonstration units with rotated pastures.

Activities for environmental and territorial management of indigenous lands included: seed collection; formation and management of family nurseries with seedling production of native species; recovery of degraded spring areas; formation, in degraded areas, of collective cassava plantation areas associated with fruit trees; purchase and maintenance of boat engine used for expeditions to harvest traditional medicinal and food species and for conducting monitoring and territorial surveillance expeditions.

A significant part of the funded projects prioritized rural youth, including young women and youth from traditional indigenous and quilombola¹ communities. These young people plays an important role in the development of rural areas by promoting agroecological practices based on new technologies and using the tools and equipment provided by the project, which reduce the physical effort of agricultural work and improve its productivity.

PPP-Ecos also promoted the valorization of women’s work, reinforcing their participation from the perspective of building equality and improving family life. Of the 88 projects supported by PPP-Ecos, more than a dozen were implemented by groups of women.

The project provided directly (ISPN) and indirectly (by the supported partners) a series of training activities for individuals who participated in the 88 projects supported, aiming at training local technical staff. About 7,200 people were trained in a broad methodological format, from modular courses to quick workshops. These trainings encompassed topics such as project management; agroecological production techniques and good processing practices in agribusiness. A further 103 exchanges were held to exchange and amplify the knowledge generated, benefiting about 1,300 participants.

Regarding the technical management of the program, ISPN conducted follow-up and monitoring visits to the 88 supported projects. These visits aimed to verify the execution of the activities, as well as to advise on procedures and support certain actions.

The project also conducted and systemized a series of studies: nine materials related to the beneficiaries and themes supported by the project; two documentaries and a study on avoided emissions. Examples of publications produced by the project: “Guide for Development of Community Agribusiness Projects”; “Babaçu Coconut Breakers Small Eco-social Projects: reflections and learnings”; “Technological Manual for Buriti Leaf and Fruit Integral Utilization”; and “Technological Manual for Stingless Native Bee Products Integral Utilization.”² 

¹ Quilombos – communities built by descendants of enslaved fugitives before the abolition of slavery in Brazil, in 1888.
² Some of these materials can be accessed at the Amazon Fund website:

Final Evaluation

Result and impact indicators

Project activities contributed to the results related to the “sustainable production” component (1) of the Amazon Fund’s Logical Framework.

Below are the outcomes of the main agreed indicators for monitoring the predicted direct effects.

Direct effect 1.1 - Identification and development of economic activities for the sustainable use of the forest and biodiversity in community associations

Direct effect 1.2 - Local production arrangements of strengthened agroextractive products, with involvement of community associations

  • Revenue obtained from sustainable economic activities (outcome indicator)
    Goal: R$ 1,500/year per family | Result achieved: R$ 2,400/year per family

The achieved result of R$ 2,400/year revenue per family is an average value obtained from measuring the economic results of 46 projects, from 2014 to 2018. All monitored projects include projects with higher added value, such as honey, palm heart and fruit pulps production chains, while others are still organizing their value chains and adapting to the markets.

  • Number of projects supported under the Amazon PPP-Ecos (outcome indicator)
    Goal: 160 | Result achieved: 88

The total amount of support for the projects was estimated at R$ 6 million. Although the maximum value per project was foreseen to be R$ 60,000 for small projects and R$ 90,000 for consolidation projects, it was initially estimated that the proposals received would be of lower values.  There were also a larger number of consolidation projects than estimated, resulting in a portfolio of 88 projects.

  • Area recovered in use for economic purposes (outcome indicator)
    Goal: 1,000 hectares | Result achieved: 1,981 
  • Area recovered for environmental conservation and/or environmental regularization – regeneration in progress (outcome indicator)
    Goal: not defined | Result achieved: 1,018 
  • Number of families benefiting from projects (output indicator)
    Goal: 1,500 families | Result achieved: 3,046 families

Direct effect 1.3 – Expansion of managerial and technical capabilities for the implementation of eco-social projects together with traditional populations

  • Number of training workshops in eco-social project management (output indicator)
    Goal: 8 | Result achieved: 17
  • Number of trained servers effectively using the acquired knowledge (outcome indicator)
    Goal: 200 | Result achieved: 5,072 

The project directly benefited 3,046 families of family farmers, indigenous, quilombolas, land reform settlers, groups of women and rural youth, contributing to improve the reality of 72 municipalities in the three states covered by PPP-Ecos in the Amazon.

Institutional and administrative aspects

The project was executed in all the planned actions, having involved a large number of civil society organizations selected to be supported by four public calls held by ISPN. 

PPP-Ecos sought to act, whenever possible, by adding efforts to conservation actions previously existing in the territory, aiming to achieve its results on a larger scale.

During the five years of project implementation in the Amazon region, constant dialogues and partnerships were established with various actors in the three states covered by the project (Mato Grosso, Tocantins and Maranhão).

The implementation of many of the small projects has contributed to promote and reinforce the principle that good implementation is directly related to the initiatives being able to build support and partnership networks. Thus, several partnerships and alliances were built by the initiatives in the territory throughout its implementation.

Partnerships involving public agencies, such as the Mato Grosso Research, Assistance and Rural Extension Company (Empaer), the National Rural Learning Service (Senar); the Brazilian Micro and Small Enterprises’ Support Service (Sebrae) and several municipal governments in the region were also established.

Additionally, ISPN articulated itself with the National Indian Foundation (Funai), the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Natural Resources (Ibama), the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) and the National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra) in its actions in specific territories, such as indigenous lands, extractive reserves and agrarian settlement projects.

The relationship with public institutions also aimed to comply with the legal and formal requirements necessary for the proper execution of the projects, through the environmental licensing of the supported initiatives.

Risks and lessons learned

Throughout the project implementation, ISPN invited representatives of the states’ environmental agencies to participate in the technical chambers that integrated the selection process of the supported projects. 

The contributions of the environmental agencies’ technicians were relevant to improve the understanding of the regional contexts where the projects are inserted, as well as to disseminate the PPP-Ecos and its specificities in the environmental agencies responsible for licensing.

Most of the small projects supported were exempted from environmental licensing or had its licensing simplified.

Another successful strategy was hiring consultants to advise community-based organizations aiming at the good implementation of the program, since many of these organizations had never managed third-party resources.

The fragility of the community-based organizations, combined with a culture of informality present in some municipalities served by the program, motivated this strategy of hiring regional advisories. The difficulties faced by some community organizations also included the lack of suppliers of goods and services in the region and the lack of internet access.

Building community agribusiness was one of the most demanded actions in the PPP-ECOS project portfolio. In general, it was observed that the organizations that anticipated building agribusiness had little knowledge about the process of construction and regularization of agribusiness enterprises. In this scenario, the organizations requested information and training from ISPN to enable this process. The project had planned a set of activities for this purpose, but other actions were necessary.

Another lesson learned concerns the regularization of community agribusiness
enterprises. Hiring consulting services had not been foreseen, but it was important to ensure that the community enterprises could be structured minimally to access the market.

One of the first obstacles faced by the projects was the access to sketches adequate to the sanitary standards for food production, since their regions had no professionals capable of this kind of work. In this sense, the project produced the Guide for development of community agribusiness projects, whose first edition included four types of agribusiness (frozen fruit pulps, house for honey extraction, flour mill and multifunctional kitchen) and the second, already with updated legislation, added three more types of family agribusiness (nuts and coconuts, apis and native stingless bee products and milk with their derivatives), in addition to refitting fruit pulp plants and updating their legislation.

Finally, it was found that the regulatory framework still represents a set of barriers for community groups, because it is a complex legislation, involving environmental, health, labor, tax and fiscal standards, among others. 

Sustainability of results

ISPN carried out important work to systematize the knowledge produced by the project, compiling it into publications, which serve as a basis for consultation and guidance for implementing other initiatives of a similar nature.

The sustainability of the results achieved is related to the nature of the actions developed. Most of the actions supported were focused on sustainable production and income generation for local populations. This characteristic contributes so that the results achieved can be sustained over time and even expanded in the most successful cases.

However, it is important to remember that the year 2020 is being severely impacted by Covid-19. In addition to the serious risks to the health and physical integrity of local populations, the scope and long duration of the pandemic pose additional challenges to the sustainability of the results of this and other projects.