Camila Islas


Camila Alvez Islas CCRN Researcher, community & conservationI was born and grew up in the very south of Brazil, often visiting my family in rural areas of Uruguay. Between these two worlds I learned to appreciate traditional livelihoods and the close contact with nature. I have a bachelor degree in Biology from the University of Pelotas (UFPel) and a master’s degree in Ecology from the University of Campinas (UNICAMP), where I am currently a PhD student in Ecology. My research focuses on a rural social-ecological system in the municipality of São Luís do Paraitinga (São Paulo, Brazil), and my main goal is to generate information for wildlife management in rural landscapes. Since my master’s I have been a member of the Commons Conservation and Management Research Group (CGCommons), at the Environmental Studies and Research Center (NEPAM/UNICAMP). Also since my master’s degree, I have been collaborating with and being supported by the Community Conservation Research Network (CCRN). My research interests include wildlife conservation and management, environmental governance and integrated community-based conservation and development.


Praia do Sono, Paraty, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil (Master’s degree, 2013-2015)
The study site of my master’s degree was Praia do Sono, whose Caiçara community has around 300 inhabitants. Caiçara are mixed populations of European and Brazilian indigenous descendants. Because the community is 25 km away from the city center and is accessed only by boat or a 1-hour walking trail, fishing, tourism-related activities, and small-scale agriculture account for most of the local livelihoods. The community lives inside the Juatinga State Ecological Reserve (JSER), a no-take protected area created in 1992 to protect the Atlantic Forest and Caiçara culture. Even so, they are not allowed to hunt or grow crops. The “Ecological Reserve” is not a category currently recognized by Brazil’s National System of Protected Areas established by law in 2000. Thus, JSER is currently under a reclassification process. This reclassification is going to have important consequences for the community, as the area may either fall under a more restrictive management system or lead to an arrangement that allows for the sustainable use of natural resources.

São Luís do Paraitinga, São Paulo state, Brazil (PhD, 2015-2019)

São Luís do Paraitinga is a small rural town located in the Paraíba Valley, a mesoregion of São Paulo state, in Brazil. This town has about 10.000 inhabitants, mostly Caipira people. Caipira is one of the most popular and disseminated Brazilian culture, characterized in its majority by people that are born and live in rural areas of different states. Forestry, agriculture, livestock, industry and mining are the most significant land use activities in the Paraíba Valley, which is predominantly covered by the Atlantic forest biome and its associated ecosystems. However, as deforestation has been going on since the beginning of Brazilian colonization, only 23% of its original forest cover remain.


Master’s research (2013-2015)
During my master’s research, I was interested in the traditional ecological knowledge about wildlife held by the Caiçara people of the community of Praia do Sono. I was especially interested on its potential to provide useful information not only to improve the management of terrestrial natural resources, but also as a contribution to the debate on the reclassification process of the protected area. Additionally, I investigated the possibility of including strategies and actions based on the Ecosystem-based management approach, in the new management proposal resulting from the reclassification. I found that Caiçaras of Praia do Sono community, especially the elders, possess a robust body of traditional ecological knowledge about the wildlife. The most interesting and useful aspects regard the biology and ecology of game mammals, birds and reptiles, hunting weapons and techniques and traditional hunting rules. The manager and the future board of the JSER can use all the knowledge documented and discussed in my master’s thesis to improve the new management proposal of the protected area.

PhD research (2015-2019)

In my PhD research I am interested in understanding how rural people and mammal communities have been affecting one another in the last three decades. I am also interested in understanding how we can integrate mammal conservation with local development in rural landscapes, in a way that such landscapes can also be used as conservation spaces. In short, I intend to generate information to contribute to wildlife management in rural landscapes.

Key publications

ISLAS, C. A.; SEIXAS, C. S. . Traditional Ecological Knowledge on wildlife as a subsidy for Ecosystem-based Management in Brazilian protected areas. In: 15th Biennial Global Conference International Association for the Study of the Commons, 2015, Edmonton, Canadá. IASC 2015 Book of Abstracts. Edmonton, 2015. v. 1. p. 1-339.
  • SEIXAS, C. S.; DIAS, A. C.; ISLAS, C. A. Who should care for nature? Perceptions of Caiçara communities and protected area managers/staff in Paraty, Brazil?. In: 15th Biennial Global Conference International Association for the Study of the Commons, 2015, Edmonton. IASC 2015 Book of Abstracts. Edmonton, 2015. v. 1. p. 1-339.
  • SEIXAS, C. S.; FARINACI, J.; DIAS, A. C.; MORAES, A.; ISLAS, C. A.; ARAUJO, L.; RIBAS, N.; CHAMY, P.; UMMUS, R.; FREITAS, R.; SANCHES, R. . Commons management and conservation on the ground: learning from interactions between science and practice. In: 15th Biennial Global Conference International Association for the Study of the Commons, 2015, Edmonton, Canadá. IASC 2015 Book of Abstracts. Edmonton, 2015. v. 1. p. 1-339.
  • ISLAS, C. A.; SEIXAS, C. S. . Usos, conflitos e conservação de animais silvestres na Mata Atlântica por uma população tradicional: implicações para a conservação de áreas protegidas. In: X Simpósio Brasileiro de Etnobiologia e Etnoecologia, 2014, Montes Claros, Minas Gerais. Anais do X Simpósio Brasileiro de Etnobiologia e Etnoecologia, 2014.