Rubens Gomes

Ashoka Fellow
Manaus, Brazil
Fellow Since 2003


This profile was prepared when Rubens Gomes was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Rubens is using the neglected and underutilized wood products of the Amazon to improve the lives of the people who live in and around the forest. Since current timber extraction uses only one-third of the felled wood, Rubens has designed an approach to maximize the use and minimize the extraction of wood by creating alternative products that generate income for Amazon people.
Rubens is teaching river communities that by managing, harvesting, and efficiently processing their wood resources, they can earn far more than simply selling off their forests. At the same time, he works with poor urban youth to teach them how to use this new supply of community-managed wood, wood waste, and abundant species in specialized product lines. The public face of Rubens's work is an environmentally certified string instrument production line made by poor urban youth in Manaus. Rural and urban communities are trained how to transform natural resources into social goods. On one hand, Rubens provides professional development and citizenship building for young people in poor urban settings. On the other, he works with rural communities to implement sustainable community forest management systems and alternative processing of wood for creating finished wood products. On a larger scale, Rubens is promoting the multiple and sustainable use of forest resources throughout the Amazon region.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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