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Urban Forest and Rural Cities: Multi-sited Households, Consumption Patterns, and Forest Resources in Amazonia

Christine Padoch, The New York Botanical Garden
Eduardo Brondizio, Dept. of Anthropology, Anthropological Center for Training and Research on Global Environmental Change, Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change, Indiana University
Sandra Costa, Laboratory of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Vale do Paraiba SP
Miguel Pinedo-Vasquez, Center for Environmental Research and Conservation and Dept. of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, Columbia University
Robin R. Sears, Center for Environmental Research and Conservation, Columbia University; The School for Field Studies
Andrea Siqueira, Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies and ACT - Dept. of Anthropology, Indiana University

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Abstract

In much of the Amazon Basin, approximately 70% of the population lives in urban areas and urbanward migration continues. Based on data collected over more than a decade in two long-settled regions of Amazonia, we find that rural–urban migration in the region is an extended and complex process. Like recent rural–urban migrants worldwide, Amazonian migrants, although they may be counted as urban residents, are often not absent from rural areas but remain members of multi-sited households and continue to participate in rural–urban networks and in rural land-use decisions. Our research indicates that, despite their general poverty, these migrants have affected urban markets for both food and construction materials. We present two cases: that of açaí palm fruit in the estuary of the Amazon and of cheap construction timbers in the Peruvian Amazon. We find that many new Amazonian rural–urban migrants have maintained some important rural patterns of both consumption and knowledge. Through their consumer behavior, they are affecting the areal extent of forests; in the two floodplain regions discussed, tree cover is increasing. We also find changes in forest composition, reflecting the persistence of rural consumption patterns in cities resulting in increased demand for and production of açaí and cheap timber species.

Key words

afforestation; Amazonia; deforestation; rural–urban migration; urban–rural interactions
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087