We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.

The full article is available here as HTML.

Press Ctrl-C to copy

Acre (FILEminimizer).jpg
Xapuri, a small town in the state of Acre in the Brazilian Amazon, was the home of Chico Mendes, a rubber tapper and environmentalist who fought to protect the Amazon from loggers. In 1988, he was shot dead by a cattle rancher, but his legacy survives in a factory producing millions of condoms from local latex.

Mendes saw rubber tappers as the natural custodians of the rainforest. He thought the best way to prevent land clearance was to improve the rights and income of those who make a living from the forest. Based on Mendes’s ideas, the state of Acre has adopted a policy known as ‘florestania’ or citizens forestry. One of Brazil’s poorest states, Acre is seeking to increase the value of products extracted from the forest.

The flagship of its programme is a condom factory opened in 2008 in Xapuri in conjunction with the federal government. The factory is the first in the world to use latex collected from wild, rather than cultivated, trees. Each year, it makes more than 100 million condoms to be given away as part of the government’s ambitious HIV programme.

The factory was opened by the then environment minister Marina Silva. Herself the daughter of impoverished rubber tappers from the region, she is a strong advocate of ‘florestania’. Silva is a candidate in Brazil’s presidential elections on 5 October and stands a strong chance of becoming the country’s first black female president.