Natural resource conflicts in the Western Amazon: Implications for community forest management
A. Duchelle; P. Cronkleton; K. Kainer; G. Guanacoma
Type of Document:
Conference Proceeding or Document
Date of Publication:
Place of Publication:
Forest management decisions are strongly influenced by security of forest property rights, and best long-term management practices often hinge on strengthening control over forest resources through participatory engagement with local actors. Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa) is the most important non-timber forest product (NTFP) in the trinational region of Pando, Bolivia, Acre, Brazil and Madre de Dios, Peru. This species simultaneously promotes forest conservation and forms the livelihood base for rural communities. The current development of the Interoceanic highway, an extension of the recently paved Brazilian BR-317 into Bolivia and Peru, will change the nature of this formerly remote region by providing regional access to Pacific ports. Within this dynamic context, it is essential to understand how property rights security affects short and long-term Brazil nut management linked to forest conservation and economic futures of this region. We evaluated Brazil nut collection and management practices in twelve communities in Bolivia and Brazil by conducting interviews with 190 extractivists and accompanying Brazil nut harvests in 2006 and 2007. Results of this comparative study show that unclear property rights, coupled with the dominant role of Brazil nut in the Pando household economy, creates an extremely high degree of conflict during the harvest season. Such conflict affects both the timing of Brazil nut collection, as well as management of the resource. Conversely, a secure land tenure system in Acre based on customary “tree tenure”, along with more diverse livelihood options, have resulted in
less conflict. Participatory mapping may be an important tool for communities to deal with tenure conflict, visualize traditional forest use systems, and leverage integration of traditional practices into formal land titling processes and decision-making.