The Bolsa Floresta Programme (BFP) is an incentive-based forest conservation initiative of the State of Amazonas (Brazil). Launched in 2007, the programme was among the first initiatives in Brazil that relied on direct and conservation-conditional incentives to protect forests at a large scale. One of the 15 sustainable development reserves (SDR) enrolled in the programme, the SDR Juma, became Brazil's first certified REDD project, and also the first worldwide to receive the "gold" status of the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA). This study characterizes the BFP intervention context and documents preliminary impacts, with the objective to identify lessons learned for this and other conservation initiatives in the Amazon, and beyond. It relies on household survey data collected in two BFP reserves, the SDR Juma and Uatumã, as well as some remote sensing-based analyses that cover the programme's total intervention area. Here we summarize key findings on (1) the predominant livelihood strategies of programme participants and non-participants, respectively, inside and outside the SDRs Juma and Uatumã, (2) recent trends in land cover change in and around the two reserves, (3) preliminary evidence on BFP impact, and (4) the main lessons from our study.