Juliana Martins

Thesis Title: Implications of the nighttime traffic restriction on the highway BR-174 within the Waimiri-Atroari Indigenous Territory for biodiversity conservation and community safety

Abstract: This project investigates the role of the Waimiri-Atroari (WA) indigenous community’s nighttime traffic restrictions on the BR-174 highway in mitigating biodiversity loss in the Amazon Forest in Brazil. The BR-174, a federal highway that traverses the Brazilian territory, was built during the military dictatorship to colonize the country’s northern region, including the Amazon Forest. During its construction from 1977 to 1983, the rights of many indigenous communities were violated. The WA, an indigenous population residing between the states of Amazonas and Roraima, experienced one of the most severe genocides during the military regime. Approximately 40 years ago, the WA community began blocking access daily to the 125km stretch of the BR-174 within their territory from 6 pm and 6 am. This restriction primarily aims to ensure the community’s safety by preventing attacks on their villages at night and, secondarily, to protect wildlife. However, this blockage has unknown ecological impacts and generates significant social conflicts with the government and the private sector.

From an ecological standpoint, very few studies were conducted on the impact of highways in the Amazon Forest, and the current context of increasing road expansion and deforestation in the region threatens species’ survival. This project aims to evaluate the impacts of the BR-174 blockage on biodiversity by assessing the number of roadkills inside and outside the reserve and the influence of the barrier effect on local mammals. To accomplish this, we will install camera traps to assess the species’ occupancy at varying distances from the highway. From a social perspective, we will evaluate the motivations for the road closure through interviews with the WA community members and understand the main drivers behind the success or failure of their governance. As a result, the project will provide valuable information for road expansion policies that could minimize the costs for wildlife and people.

First Supervisor: Morena Mills

Social media: https://www.linkedin.com/in/juliana-martins-514673220/