SLU: Sustainable Agricultural Production and Food Security

Deforestation and community forestry management in Brazilian Amazon

Deforestation and community forestry management in Brazilian Amazon
29 September, 2017 - 10:00 - 12:00, Uppsala Sweden

Community forest management, spatial mobility and deforestation: challenges for forest-agriculture integration at an environmentally-focused land reform scheme in Anapu, Eastern Amazon

Don’t miss the opportunity to listen to and discuss with Roberto Porro on Friday 29 September at 10.00-12.00!

Summary of presentation

The intense spatial mobility of land reform settlers toward better livelihoods has been presented as one of the main causes of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. Sustainable forest management by smallholder communities is frequently included as a strategy of government agencies and ngos to revert deforestation trends as it reconciles environmental, economic and social objectives. In this study, we aimed to understand the connections among participation in community forest management (CFM), plot turnover, household income and deforestation. Despite the difficulties for the feasibility of community-based forest management, it remains one of the few alternatives for local governance in contexts under forest cover. Yet, public policies and programs for forest conservation based on local collective actions are still poorly understood and lacking public support. Our empirical research was carried out in an environmentally focused land reform settlement near the Transamazon highway, the Virola-Jatobá Sustainable Development Project (PDS) in the municipality of Anapu, Pará state. Social struggles in the Anapu PDS, whose most visible expression was the murder of Dorothy Stang in 2005, provoked developments that, even after a decade, still influence local livelihoods and forest integrity. In this settlement, CFM has been for over a decade a major governmental instrument to curb deforestation, avoid land turnover and improve income. Direct observation in anthropological action research shows that CFM will only succeed if resulting from collective action assembling the diverse and divergent social groups in the PDS. We also identified that specific social norms related to swidden, slash-and-burn fields have the potential to generate collective action, even towards forest management. Our data show that rather than the resources derived from the CFM, it is their incorporation into the founding institution, the swidden fields, that support the continuity of local livelihoods, and consequently desirable levels of income, reduced spatial mobility and feasible deforestation control goals. Considering the local diversity of actors and complexity of contexts, we conclude that the adjustment of social norms, now connecting swidden fields to forest management is a critical condition for the effectiveness of CFM and the environmental land reform modality.

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