Ucuuba

 

Ucuuba in the Amazon: conserving traditions and biodiversity

 
 Josineide, a technologist and leader in environmental management. Today, she coordinates work teams in the State of Amapá, Brazil.  Photo courtesy of Natura.

Josineide, a technologist and leader in environmental management. Today, she coordinates work teams in the State of Amapá, Brazil.  Photo courtesy of Natura.

Josineide (known as “Josi”) is one of the youngest leaders from her community.  She is a founding partner and project coordinator of the Association of Agro-Extractive Workers of Ilha das Cinzas (ATAIC) in her home state of Pará in northern Brazil, a region rich in biodiversity.  Josi’s own community is one of thirty Amazonian communities in Brazil that has been partnering with Natura, a Brazil-based manufacturer of beauty and personal care products sold in more than 70 countries. 

One of the ingredients Natura and these communities are working comes from the endangered ucuuba tree. Inhabitants of Amazonian riverside communities use the ucuuba to make medicinal teas and candles, and to treat skin conditions.  The use of the ucuuba seeds is the most recent result of research, development and dialogue among Natura and communities in the states of Pará and Amazonas. The name ucuuba is from the Tupi language and means “butter tree,” and this butter from its seeds is now being used in Natura’s Ekos Ucuuba line of body and hair products. 

Today Josi’s community is making sure that they are conserving the rainforest, preserving their own traditional knowledge, and working in partnership with a company that is committed to fairness.  Without losing forest or their traditional ways of life, Josi and fellow community members are seeing living conditions improve thanks to their careful preservation of the ucuuba tree and other native plants that yield natural ingredients.  Previously, the main source of income for these families was cutting the ucuuba tree for the timber industry. Every year, the income a community obtains from a preserved ucuuba tree is three times higher than exploiting it for timber, given that the logged tree generates income only one time.  This asset represents the best alternative in the forest economy, generating a positive impact for the communities and for the environment.

UEBT certifies ucuuba and 20 other ingredients from the Amazon for use in Natura products.  Certification ensures that sourcing is done with respect so that people and nature can thrive. 

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Lara Koritzke