Inderscience Publishers

Farmers' (local and colonists) perceptions of environmental changes in the forest frontier of the upper Amazon, Peru

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Amazon ecosystem degradation profoundly impacts life supporting processes of global importance such as climate regulation, as well as local conditions for livelihoods. In Peru's highland jungle, an expanding deforestation front of forest conversion to agriculture has vastly transformed the landscape. Small–scale farming, the main driver of forest degradation, and consequently household natural resource management affect ecosystem functionality. To investigate farmers' attitudes and priorities to services provided by the ecosystems (ES) we interviewed 51 farmers, both local and colonists. They strongly agreed that over the last three decades, local conditions for livelihoods have deteriorated following forest degradation and climate change. The latter was reported the primary contributor to an impaired life quality and their greatest concern. Overall, local farmers perceived greater environmental change than did colonists who were also more positive towards intensive agriculture and forestry. This should be considered in environmental conservation efforts in the upper Amazon.

Keywords: sustainable development, deforestation, land cover change, climate change, attitudes, farmer perceptions, migration, colonists, tropical forests, humid forests, agricultural resources, smallholders, rural livelihoods, environmental change, ecosystem services, local farmers, Amazon ecosystem degradation, Peru, sustainability, highland jungles, small–scale farming, natural resource management, environmental conservation, quality of life

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