Global environmental change has motivated multiple interventions in pursuit of sustainable outcomes within tropical forest landscapes. Fire is recognised as a key stressor facing forest conservation efforts. Large‐scale accidental fires are increasingly prevalent across the forested tropics, generating negative impacts across sectors and scales. Policy responses to mega‐fires in the Brazilian Amazon have been diverse but all are dominated by an anti‐fire narrative that highlights long‐stigmatised smallholder agricultural practices. Despite forest conservation initiatives and fire management policies, escaped fire (wildfire) remains pervasive. Forest conservation initiatives are often situated in contexts where swidden agriculture prevails, generating a need for an improved understanding of the interplay between fire management and conservation initiatives on the ground. We explore these dynamics through a case study approach in three leading forest conservation initiative types, situated across diverse contexts in the Brazilian Amazon: a Reduction of Emissions of Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) site (in Middle Solimões region), an extractive reserve (RESEX) (in Arapíuns region), and a Green Municipality Pact (GMP) (in Paragominas). Between sites, climate and colonisation histories vary, yet all demonstrate that farmers experience the burden of escaped fire, attesting to the failure of fire management policies and suggesting that fire (as currently managed) threatens forest conservation goals. Restrictive fire management policies do not replace the necessity of fire‐based agriculture and rather serve to disempower swidden farmers by making burning increasingly illicit. We show that awareness of fire‐free alternatives exists, yet experience is limited and constraints are considerable. We argue that marginalising fire use in the context of forest conservation initiatives contributes to a legacy of failed interventions and jeopardises partnerships between communities and conservation practitioners. Finally, we suggest that given the absence of imminent and viable fire‐free alternatives, particularly in sites where swidden and conservation collide, a new model of fire warrants experimentation.
Resumo: Este trabalho apresenta um estudo sobre a diversidade da mandioca na região do médio Solimões, enfocando principalmente comunidades localizadas nas Reservas de Desenvolvimento Sustentável Mamirauá e Amanã, no Amazonas. O estudo associa dados quantitativos e etnográficos. A análise de dados de monitoramento de 13 comunidades de várzea e de terra firme revelou o seguinte padrão de diversidade de manivas (mandioca): riqueza total de 54 variedades, com distribuição ampla de poucas variedades e ocorrência localizada da maioria; riqueza média de dez variedades por comunidade; e coleções familiares com três variedades em média. Uma análise temporal das coleções familiares mostrou a natureza dinâmica da diversidade regional. Ao longo de cinco anos, praticamente todas as 55 famílias acompanhadas alteraram a composição de variedades, mas mudaram pouco o tamanho de suas coleções. Para discutir essa dinâmica da diversidade, realizamos pesquisa qualitativa em três comunidades. Buscamos entender as condições sociais e ambientais que os agricultores enfrentam, as preferências por certas manivas e os padrões de manejo das roças. Mostramos que a diversidade de manivas é resultado de uma prática de experimentação ativa e que a dinâmica das coleções é definida por um conjunto de fatores que inclui o contexto das práticas econômicas, as condições ambientais e a relação histórica da população regional com a mandioca.Palavras-chave: Agricultura familiar. Agrobiodiversidade. Mandioca. Maniva. Rio Solimões. Abstract:The paper presents a study on the manioc diversity in the Middle Solimões region, focusing largely on communities located in the Sustainable Development Reserves of Mamirauá and Amanã, state of Amazonas, Brazil. The study combines quantitative and ethnographic data. The analysis of survey data collected in 13 communities in the 'várzea' and in the 'terra firme' revealed the following pattern of manioc diversity: a total richness of 54 varieties, demonstrating a broad distribution of a small number of varieties and a local occurrence of the majority; an average richness of ten varieties per community; and an average of three varieties maintained per household. A temporal analysis of survey data collected at the household level illustrates the dynamic nature of this regional diversity. Over the course of five years, almost all the 55 accompanied families altered the composition of manioc varieties in their collections; however, the size of these collections showed little variation. To discuss the dynamics of diversity, we conducted qualitative research in three communities. This analysis sought to understand the social and environmental conditions with which farmers contend, patterns of manioc management, and the logic behind farmers' preferences for certain manioc varieties. The research demonstrates that maniva diversity is a result of active experimentation, and that collections of manivas maintained by farmers are dynamic and ever-changing. This dynamism is defined by a series of factors that include economic prac...
Changing fire regimes in the context of climate change call for new understandings of their diversity, use, policies, practices and politics. While catastrophic fires are redoubling calls for suppression, new political ecologies debate fire prohibition politics and emphasise understanding and incorporating local knowledge into management decisions. Latin American countries are characterised by strong regional tensions associated with environmental policies, agriculture and infrastructure development that often compete with local livelihoods, traditional management and a range of resource use practices. Landscape knowledge systems that inform customary use, access and resource interventions have become a new node of contestation; these are added to the perennial question of land rights, especially as carbon politics and other environmental services become more important in the structuring of autonomy over land uses. This themed section presents research conducted in different countries and biomes in Latin America and explores the historical and current tensions around the development of the science of burning by local populations. Research outlines the contradictions and tensions between fire control policies and rural livelihoods, and the emergent political factors and ideologies that inherent in fire conflicts and could help shape solutions. Our four case studies in different regions of south America (Amazon, Cerrado, Chiquitana), explore the production, application and circulation of knowledge about fire and its consequences using an array of methods: classical descriptive models, analytics from political ecology, and the complex arena of science and technology studies. The latter help us to understand the conflictual dynamics associated with “new fire management,” which relies on more technological means of fire control as well as legislation, payments, and new governmentalities to transform traditional practices. Overall, the papers place fire management in its new active political and ecological framing, namely at the heart of current development debates in the Latin American tropics.
Economistic approaches to the study of peasant livelihoods have considerable academic and policy influence, yet, we argue, perpetuate a partial misunderstanding -often reducing peasant livelihood to the management of capital assets by rational actors. In this paper, we propose to revitalize the original heterodox spirit of the sustainable livelihoods framework by drawing on Stephen Gudeman's work on the dialectic between use values and mutuality on the one hand, and exchange values and the market on the other. We use this approach to examine how historically divergent mutuality-market dialectics in different Amazonian regions have shaped greater prominence of either extractivism or agriculture in current livelihoods. We conclude that an approach centered on the mutuality-market dialectic is of considerable utility in revealing the role of economic histories in shaping differential peasant livelihoods in tropical forests. More generally, it has considerable potential to contribute to a much-needed re-pluralization of approaches to livelihood in academia and policy.
ResumoAs regiões de florestas tropicais estão em constantes transformações, em parte, resultantes do manejo por populações tradicionais aonde os sistemas de cultivo itinerante (agricultura migratória e de corte queima) desempenham um importante papel. No entanto, juntamente a estas discussões, são questionados os impactos e a sustentabilidade destes sistemas de cultivo e suas contribuições para o desmatamento. Diante disso, procuramos maiores informações sobre a prática da agricultura migratória por meio do estudo do uso e conversão de hábitat florestal em unidades produtivas agrícolas de duas comunidades tradicionais situadas em áreas de terra firme. Concluímos que indicativos da sustentabilidade desse sistema estão associados à prática integrada à floresta e ao período destinado ao pousio das áreas. AbstractTropical forest regions are in constant transformation, partly resulting from management by traditional populations where shifting cultivation systems (swiddenfallow and slash and burn agriculture) play an important role. However, along with these discussions, the impacts and sustainability of these farming systems and its contribution to deforestation are often called into question. Therefore, this research sought to generate information on the practice of shifting cultivation by studying the conversion of forest habitat to agricultural areas located in two traditional communities in upland areas of Central Amazonia. We conclude that the sustainability of this system is based on its character of being integrated into surrounding forests and the length of the fallow period maintained by farmers who engage in this practice.
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