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Forest dependent poor at the agricultural frontier: the complexity of poverty and the promise of sustainable forest ecosystems in Amazonia

Funder: UK Research and InnovationProject code: NE/I004467/1
Funded under: NERC Funder Contribution: 48,640 GBP

Forest dependent poor at the agricultural frontier: the complexity of poverty and the promise of sustainable forest ecosystems in Amazonia

Description

Deforestation and marginalization of rural poor continues in Brazil and Bolivia despite investment in institutional change, forest regulation, improving land management practices and economic development. Previous approaches to equitable management of forest ecosystems in the Amazon tended to offer very narrow formalised solutions, lacked structure and coherence, were too insular and lacked broader international perspective and expertise. The proposed project will address these gaps by providing a holistic and inter-disciplinary approach to understanding the links between the causes, mechanisms and the effects of deforestation on poverty at the agricultural frontier in three case study areas in Bolivia and Brazil. The problem of making the benefits of forest ecosystems available equitably to the disadvantaged people is one of the top priority policy issues identified in the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment (2005). However, environmental governance in the Amazon tends to lack engagement with forest dependent poor, so that some ecosystem management initiatives restrict poor people's access to resources and reduce their anti-poverty capabilities. The proposed project attempts to rectify this problem by giving the voice to the rural poor in the Amazon frontier, reconnecting them with the regional policy makers and linking them into broader research networks to develop Southern-led solutions to the problems of deforestation and poverty. Through the series of workshops, pilot studies and user-engagement events the proposed project exposes dynamism of deforestation and its effects on poverty in the frontier areas as well as suggests institutional changes necessary for equitable forest ecosystems management in the Amazon. It will attend to three key areas: 1. Understanding concerns over, experiences of and reactions to deforestation by the forest dependent poor The project will give voice to the forest dependent poor to articulate their concerns over forest degradation and deforestation and to incorporate their perspectives on poverty and poverty alleviation into the development of pathways to sustaining ecosystem services. 2. Developing holistic, interdisciplinary approaches to poverty alleviation through sustainable forestry The proposed project will address fragmentation of existing mechanisms governing ecosystem management and tackling poverty of the people affected by deforestation by bringing together forest dependent poor, policy-makers, governing bodies, and research institutions involved in rural development. It will evaluate existing policies reducing environmental vulnerability, address the lack of capacity and explore the potential for more effective inter-agency work to avoid policy conflicts and duplication of development efforts. 3. Developing international knowledge networks to facilitate equitable forest management Through a series of workshops and pilot studies the project will develop southern-led solutions to deforestation and the alleviation of poverty. It will enable knowledge transfer, research networking and cross-agency learning for the actors at local, national and international levels involved in sustainable forest management in the Amazon.

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