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6. Conclusions

The studies carried out under these projects are indicative of the efforts that the Amazonian countries are making to deal with one of the greatest challenges of our time: sustainable development of the Amazon region. The studies show the advantages of treating regional development by means of border integration projects in order to generate and spread the basic elements of the region's potential for future development. They also emphasize the importance of starting the process in areas that are representative of both the potential and the limitations of Amazonia.

Sustainable use of resources necessarily includes the rational use of forest resources, to provide solutions for the local people who make their living by tapping and processing these resources. A project for multiple use of forests, for example, directed towards the identification, quantification, and development of individual species. In addition to protection, such a project can provide a number of non-wood forest products that have commercial value as food, animal feed, medicines, etc. and help to diversify and make greater, more comprehensive use of natural and planted forests for the benefit of the people associated with those ecosystems. National efforts to develop this kind of model for the sustainable use of forests resources through appropriate technology and financial resources should be supported by the international community.

Regardless of the economic activity, development is closely linked to use of the natural resource endowment. Nevertheless, the absence of an appropriate strategy for ensuring comprehensive management of this endowment over the long term could make sustainable development a difficult goal to reach. Despite this difficulty, it presents an opportunity that should not be wasted since the definition of such strategy creates the conditions for changing inappropriate development approaches and for establishing more socially equitable and more ecologically sustainable models.

The topic of biodiversity has been examined to varying degrees in the regional diagnoses for the plans studied. Emphasis should be placed on the use and sustainable development of those resources, not just in their preservation. National research, data compilation, and monitoring efforts should receive international support.

Productive rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems, technical and financial assistance to farmers, and the compatibilization of a nation's agricultural and environmental policies appears to be basic for ensuring viability of a sustainable development strategy for agriculture.

Along with rational use of natural resources, viable regional development requires that priority be placed on human development. Policies that have been followed in designing development for the border regions clearly show an orientation toward eradication of poverty, even though it is difficult to attain in the short term. It is important to note that there can be no effective development - much less sustainable development - until the region's population makes significant progress towards growth and equity that will enable it to overcome its present level of poverty.

The criteria used in defining the binational and national projects show the countries' interest in improving the well-being of their border communities. This is seen in the projects that foster economic growth, protect the basic needs of local populations, including the indigenous communities, and which promote a restructuring of the productive sectors.

Physical planning and management can orient the land settlement process towards making efficient use of resources, setting standards to minimize potentially polluting activities, delimiting lands for multipurposes and uses, for protection or conservation, and for improving the infrastructure of the territory.

A final conclusion is that in order to achieve a more satisfactory relationship between society and its environment, timely provision should be made for the changes that human activities and competition over use of resources may bring about in order to minimize potential conflicts.

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