Ethnopedology of a Quilombola Community in Minas Gerais: Soils, Landscape, and Land Evaluation

F. Ayaviri Matuk, C.E.G.R. Schaefer, F.N.B. Simas, T.T.C. Pereira, D.F. Gjorup, F.M.G. Coelho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Quilombolas are Afro-brazilian rural peasants who descended from escaped
slaves who tried to carve out territories of autonomy (called Quilombos) by collective organization and resistance. Despite many anthropological and ethnopedological studies, little research has been carried out to identify the agricultural practices and the knowledge of people who live in the Quilombos (Quilombolas). Peasant communities who live from land resources have wide empirical knowledge related to local soils and landscapes. In this respect, ethnopedology focuses on their relationship with local practices, needs, and values. We carried out an ethnopedological evaluation of the soils, landscape and land suitability of the Malhada Grande Quilombola Territory, aiming to examine the local criteria involved in land-use decision making, and evaluate the legitimacy of local knowledge. For this purpose, participatory workshops allowed environmental stratification of the Quilombolas into landscape units, recognition of soil types, and evaluation of land-use criteria. This approach was combined with conventional soil sampling, description, and analysis. The Brazilian System of Soil Classification and its approximations to the WRB/FAO system and
the SAAT land evaluation system were compared with the local classificatory systems, showing several convergences. The Quilombolas stratified the local environment into eight landscape units (based on soil, topography, and vegetation) and identified eight soil types with distinct morphological, chemical, and physical attributes. The conventional soil survey identified thirteen soil classes, in the same eight landscape units, organized as soil associations. The apparent contradictions between local knowledge and Pedology were relative since the classification systems were established based on different criteria, goals, and sampling references. Most soils are only suitable for pasture, with restricted Agricultural use, due to water or oxygen deficiencies. The current land use was only inconsistent with the technical recommendations when socioecological constraints such as the semiarid climate, land availability, and economic conditions for land management led to overuse of the land.
Local knowledge demonstrated its legitimacy and allowed a useful and fruitful exchange of information with the academic view of soil-landscape interplays. Although mostly unknown by the scientific community, local knowledge proved capable of achieving social welfare and food security. In addition, a participatory survey proved to be a core factor for more grounded and detailed data collection on how Quilombolas decide land use on a local scale.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0160223
Number of pages19
JournalRevista Brasileira de Ciência do Solo
Volume41
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Fingerprint

Cite this