Mapping future changes in livelihood security and environmental sustainability based on perceptions of small farmers in the Brazilian Amazon.

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Abstract

ABSTRACT Deforestation is a widely recognized problem in the Brazilian Amazon. Small farmers play a key role in this process in that they earn their livelihood by ranching and farming. Many studies have addressed the link between deforestation and livelihood strategies adopted by small farmers. Most have focused on advanced monitoring systems, simulation models, and GIS approaches to analyze the interaction of both dimensions, i.e., livelihoods and forest cover change. Although the current toolbox of methods has proved successful in increasing our understanding of these interactions, the models and approaches employed do not consider small farmers’ perspectives. On the assumption that local small farmers are agents of land-cover change, understanding how they perceive their own situation is essential to elucidate their actions. Our objective is to explore future changes in livelihood security and environmental sustainability as envisaged by local small farmers in the Brazilian Amazon. Previous livelihood cluster analysis of small farmers located in southeast Pará was integrated with fuzzy cognitive mapping to determine present perceptions and to explore future changes, using global scenarios downscaled to the local situation. Overall, system description differs only on details; all results indicate a strong trade-off between livelihood security and environmental sustainability in all livelihood systems, as identified by the small farmers. However, fundamentally different outcomes are obtained from the future analysis, depending on the livelihood strategy cluster. Achieving win-win outcomes does not necessarily imply a positive scenario, especially if small farmers are dependent on income transfers from the government to provide their livelihood.
Original languageEnglish
Article number26
Number of pages15
JournalEcology and Society
Volume20
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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Keywords

  • fuzzy cognitive maps
  • mental models
  • settlement projects
  • climate-change
  • land-use
  • deforestation
  • conservation
  • cattle
  • cows

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