Smithsonian Voices

From the Smithsonian Museums

Rafael Chiaravalloti

Rafael Morais Chiaravalloti, a Smithsonian Postdoctoral Fellow, is a Biologist who has been working in the Pantanal wetland for over 10 years, especially focused on sustainability of socio-ecological systems. He earned his PhD in Anthropology from the University College of London. Rafael is currently carrying out a research project with Working Land and Seascape, Conservation Commons at the National Zoo, titled “Conserving the World’s Largest Working Wetscape—Developing tools for sustainability and biodiversity conservation in the Pantanal.”

Cattle Ranching and Sustainability in the Wetlands of Pantanal, Brazil

Sustainability is not a novel thing. Some studies have shown that most of the existing hunter-gatherers in the world (such as Pigmies in Congo, Agta Philippines and Ache in Paraguay) employ management strategies to protect the group from free-riders and guarantee sustainable use of resources. Thus, if we consider them as the closest societies to historical hunter-gatherer groups, sustainability has been part of our goal for as long as our species has occupied the planet. For over 300 thousand years, humans have been seeking strategies to develop in ways that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” 2. However, we may not all make it. Sustainability has changed from “the norm” to a rare and uncommon habit. Thus, how we can convince people to start to be conscious about something that seems to be an integral part of our own strategy to live as a group?