Amazon Ecological Conservation Center
The BSGI (Brazil SGI) Amazon Ecological Conservation Center (AECC), founded in 1992 at the time of the "Rio Earth Summit" in the suburbs of Manaus, Brazil, has promoted various environmental conservation projects.
In 1993, the AECC signed an accord with the State of Amazonas Secretariat of Environment, Science and Technology and launched a rainforest restoration project using the center's land as an experimental forest. The area had previously been cleared to plant rubber trees, so the challenge was to enable the forest to regenerate in a way that provided habitat for plant and animals as well as a sustainable livelihood for people living nearby, by planting tree species which can provide food and shelter. Specifically, the center has worked on (1) the development of an area of land to supply seeds and saplings of Amazon tree species to local people, (2) the establishment of a permanent protected area to be used for environmental education in the future, and (3) the utilization of the forest as a refuge for wild animals.
In particular, since 1994, the AECC has implemented an "enrichment" tree-planting method to make a luxuriant forest by mixed planting of useful trees without damaging the forest. As a result, this area of forest is now composed of a variety of tree species, becoming a habitat for many wild birds and mammals. Brazil's Ministry of Environment and the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources now consider it as a forest that should be preserved permanently and have certified the AECC as a Private Natural Heritage Reserve.
To provide opportunities for environmental education, since 2001, the AECC has accommodated open-air learning for public school and college students in collaboration with the Environmental Education Department of the Manaus Municipal Secretariat of Development and Environment, through which more than 2,000 local citizens visit the center every year. The center has also promoted a recycling campaign together with local residents and held open lectures on sustainability for local people at nearby public schools. Participants have commented that the lectures helped the students to change their attitudes, and that they realized the importance of taking action to protect both themselves and the environment in which they live.
The AECC is also engaged in protection and research of the endangered primates that are only found in the outskirts of Manaus, such as Sauim-de-coleira monkeys.
When the Ikeda Laboratory for Ecological Research was opened in the AECC in November 2001, SGI President Ikeda stated in his message that the Amazon is an asset belonging to all humankind, and that its development must be carefully considered with the interests of humankind and the whole world in mind. He emphasized that "human development," or a change in the human mindset, will be the most critical factor for ensuring that this resource is utilized for the benefit of the entire planet.