Socio-ecological costs of Amazon nut and timber production at community household forests in the Bolivian Amazon

M. Soriano Candia*, G.M.J. Mohren, Nataly Ascarrunz, W.H. Dressler, M. Pena Claros

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The Bolivian Amazon holds a complex configuration of people and forested landscapes in which communities hold secure tenure rights over a rich ecosystem offering a range of livelihood income opportunities. A large share of this income is derived from Amazon nut (Bertholletia excelsa). Many communities also have long-standing experience with community timber management plans. However, livelihood needs and desires for better living conditions may continue to place these resources under considerable stress as income needs and opportunities intensify and diversify. We aim to identify the socioeconomic and biophysical factors determining the income from forests, husbandry, off-farm and two keystone forest products (i.e., Amazon nut and timber) in the Bolivian Amazon region. We used structural equation modelling tools to account for the complex inter-relationships between socioeconomic and biophysical factors in predicting each source of income. The potential exists to increase incomes from existing livelihood activities in ways that reduce dependency upon forest resources. For example, changes in off-farm income sources can act to increase or decrease forest incomes. Market accessibility, social, financial, and natural and physical assets determined the amount of income community households could derive from Amazon nut and timber. Factors related to community households’ local ecological knowledge, such as the number of non-timber forest products harvested and the number of management practices applied to enhance Amazon nut production, defined the amount of income these households could derive from Amazon nut and timber, respectively. The (inter) relationships found among socioeconomic and biophysical factors over income shed light on ways to improve forest-dependent livelihoods in the Bolivian Amazon. We believe that our analysis could be applicable to other contexts throughout the tropics as well.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0170594
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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