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Multilevel determinants of indigenous land use in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon: a cross-cultural study

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

Agricultural extensification is the world’s primary proximate cause of tropical deforestation, and population-environment research has addressed this issue through studies of land use by smallholder agriculturalists at tropical forest frontiers. In part due to their isolation, these methods have not been applied to populations of indigenous peoples who inhabit frontier forests, despite recognition of their important role in conservation efforts and ongoing transformations of their traditional livelihoods. We analyze data from a 2001 household survey of five indigenous populations in the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon, with the goal of understanding processes of extensification and intensification affecting traditional swidden-fallow agriculture. Using multi-level models, we investigate the demographic, geographic, ecological and socio-economic determinants at household and community levels of the size and composition of agricultural plots, including the effect of ethnicity. The results should have important implications for conservation and development policy in indigenous territories throughout the Amazon basin.

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Presented in Session 171: Population, environment and development