Indigenous Populations and Land Use in the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon
Clark L. Gray, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Jason Bremner, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Flora Lu Holt, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Over the last twenty years there has been growing concern about deforestation of the Amazonian rainforests, the world's largest remaining tropical wilderness. Indigenous peoples inhabit large areas of forest and are of primary importance in understanding this process. While traditional forms of indigenous land use have tended to be sustainable, this is threatened by population growth, increasing market integration, and increasing contact with settlers, oil companies and other outside actors. Some indigenous communities are beginning to practice non-traditional forms of agriculture that resemble the unsustainable practices of migrant colonists. This paper presents early results from a 2001 survey of land use practices of 554 indigenous households of five ethnic groups in the Ecuadorian Amazon. We discuss the data collection methodology and relationships between land use outcomes and potential explanatory factors, including demographic, socioeconomic and biophysical variables. We conclude with a discussion of plans for future analyses and tentative policy implications.