Itacar

Itacar is located in the cocoa zone of the state of Bahia, 440 km south of Salvador and 70 km north of Ilhus. The historic city is the principal entry point to the Itacar – Serra Grande Environmental Protected Area (APA) in the south (see map), to the Conduru State Park in the southeast and to the Camamu in the north.

The first inhabitants of the small town of Itacar were the Pataxs Indians. In the beginning of the 18th century, the Jesuits settled and built their church, So Miguel, still standing today. The village was named So Miguel da Barra do Rio de Contas and was raised to the status of county in 1732, by order of Ana Maria Atade e Castro, Countess of Resende. The name was changed to Itacar in 1931.

During colonial times, there was a tunnel which linked the church to the Jesuit house. They used the tunnel to escape from indigenous attacks that were frequent at that time. The river, Rio de Contas, was used to hide pirate ships and Portuguese galleons. Itacar was an important port during the times when maritime transport dominated in Bahia. With the development and construction of roads its traffic diminished and the basic source of income for the whole municipal comes nowadays basically from the cultivation of cacao.

The Serra do Conduru State Park southeast of Itacar was created in February 21 of 1997 by the decree n 6227 of the Government of the State of Bahia and protects on an area of 9.000 ha important remnants of Atlantic Rainforest pretty well preserved. Flora and Fauna of the park are very rich and shelter many endemic species such as the quiri tree or the primates macaco-prego do peito amarelo (yellow-breasted capuchin monkey) and the preguia de coleira (maned sloth). A study realized by the Botanical Garden of New York identified 456 different tree species in one hectare (100 m x 100 m) which is considered a world record in biodiversity

The necessities of conservation of the park unfortunately dont combine with the presence and the activities of aproximately 160 families which until today live within the limits of the park and who survive by simple agricultural labor such as manioc planting. One of the biggest problems of the park is the regulation of indemnization payments to those families. Until today, only 12% of the families have received such payments. Without thoses indemnization payments those families are tolerated within the park but they are not allowed to enlarge the space where they are living and reduce their agricultural activities to a minimum (without cutting trees and setting fire). Considering that the number of their family members is constantly growing these are hard conditions to survive.