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Forest management by small farmers in the Amazon

The ForLive project

Forest management by small farmers in the Amazon – an opportunity to enhance forest ecosystem stability and rural livelihoods (ForLive) was a research consortium of nine South American and European universities and NGOs in partnership with smallholder communities in Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru. The aim of the ForLive project was to identify locally viable options for forest use contributing to local livelihoods and to promote these as a basis for sustainable development in the Amazon. ForLive identified nearly 150 promising cases of community forest management initiatives, from which a total of sixteen cases had been selected as a basis for more intensive research with the direct involvement of small farmers and the communities.

My role in ForLive

I was a PhD candidate in the ForLive project. For my PhD research I researched the influence of forest governance institutions on the practices of small farmers in the Amazon. I conducted my research in Bolivia and Ecuador with additional research in Peru and Brazil. The main questions I was after were: To what extent influence institutions the forest management practices? How are the formal institutions reshaped or reformed in local practices? How important are the cultural, traditional institutions in forest management?

My research in Bolivia focused on the Beni province around the town of Riberalta. In these communities, the Brazil nut collection is an important source of income which affects the way forest management practices are organized and valued. My research in Ecuador showed how small scaled logging played an important role in meeting the extra living costs such as school fees, health or paying for cattle costs. In both countries, the forest policy was not very influential, while traditional practices were much more common.

I published a PhD dissertation and a scientific article on this research (see publications).