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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

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Record number 439738
Title From landless to forestless? : settlers, livelihoods and forest dynamics in the Brazilian Amazon
Author(s) Homero Diniz, F.
Source University. Promotor(en): Bas Arts, co-promotor(en): Kasper Kok; Marjanke Hoogstra-Klein. - [S.l.] : s.n. - ISBN 9789461735836 - 184
Department(s) Forest and Nature Conservation Policy
Soil Geography and Landscape
CERES
Publication type Dissertation, internally prepared
Publication year 2013
Keyword(s) ontbossing - landloosheid - bossen - bosdynamiek - bosecologie - middelen van bestaan - strategieën voor levensonderhoud - bosbedrijfsvoering - brazilië - deforestation - landlessness - forests - forest dynamics - forest ecology - livelihoods - livelihood strategies - forest management - brazil
Categories Forest Management
Abstract

Keywords: deforestation; remote sensing; mental models; stakeholders’ perceptions; agrarian reform

Over the last decades, hundreds of thousands of families have settled in projects in the Brazilian Amazon within the Agrarian Reform Program (ARP) framework, the rationale being to enable settlers to earn their living by small-scale farming and produce an agricultural surplus for sale. Further, the Brazilian Forestry Code requires settlers not to deforest more than 20% of forest on their properties, but in many projects settlers have deforested larger areas than this. However, specific questions about whether the settlers’ activities are, at the very least, providing their livelihoods, and about the effects of these choices on deforestation over time, have hardly been addressed. Located in five settlement projects in Eldorado do Carajás, southeast Pará State, this research investigated how settlers make their living; how their activities and practices affect forest cover changes; and how future prospects for both, i.e. people and forest, are envisioned. Within the framework of the sustainable livelihoods approach, the results indicated that settlers rely on three livelihood strategies (livestock-, diversified-, and off-farm-oriented), with dairy cattle as the main agricultural activity. These strategies are shaped by several factors, such as agrarian reform policies (e.g. credit) and settlers’ background. Forest dynamics analysis showed a clear recent increase in forest (2005–2010) at municipal level, suggesting that the first steps towards forest transition are taking place. However, settlers do not perceive secondary regrowth as ‘real’ forest, implying a high risk of future deforestation in these areas; but these areas can also be seen as having a high potential of remaining forested if technological innovations in agricultural activities and practices become available in the (near) future. The research findings also indicated the necessity to analyse livelihoods and forest cover changes as dynamic processes. It was not possible to determine one-to-one relationships and general patterns of effects of livelihood trajectories on forest dynamics due to the complexities involved, although analysis of individual household- and property-level cases offered insights into factors driving both. Fuzzy cognitive mapping was used to capture current settlers’ perceptions about their realities. The results indicated that settlers have similar perceptions of the factors that affect their livelihood security and environmental sustainability, independent of livelihood strategy adopted. However, differences were found in the relationships among factors and the weight attributed to each relationship, creating fundamentally different system dynamics for each livelihood strategy. Consequently, strong trade-offs exist between livelihood security and environmental sustainability independent of livelihood strategy and in (nearly) all future scenario analyses. The research produced five key messages: 1) small farmers within the studied ARP projects are less poor than often assumed; they achieve livelihood security through on- and off-farm income; 2) there is a strong trade-off between livelihood security and environmental sustainability; hence primary forest deforestation continues, although the first signs of secondary forest transitions have been observed; 3) the settlers’ contribution to deforestation is less than often assumed because they contribute to emerging forest transitions and because local deforestation peaked before the projects; 4) policies strongly affect the settlers’ realities; hence their views are crucial for effective policymaking, including both the Forestry Code and agrarian reform policies; and 5) livelihood trajectories and forest dynamics models are more appropriate to capture the realities of the human–environment systems in the Brazilian Amazon than livelihoods as snapshots and unidirectional deforestation models.

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