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To log or not to log: local perceptions of timber management and its implications for well-being within a sustainable-use protected area

Natalie A Cooper, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida
Karen A Kainer, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, University of Florida; Center for Latin American Studies, University of Florida


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Our research explores local perspectives of a recent and controversial shift in conservation and development strategies in the Brazilian Amazon whereby legal timber commercialization is being pioneered in select extractive reserves, which are a type of comanaged sustainable-use protected area. To understand how this initiative might affect well-being, we documented perceptions of reserve residents about a legal logging project and factors that influenced their decision to participate or not participate. Semistructured interviews (N = 64) were conducted with both male and female heads of household from June to August 2014. We tested the effect of household-level livelihood assets associated with material and relational well-being on project participation. Participating households were significantly less economically well-off and were more educated than nonparticipating households. Individual perceptions indicated that project supporters were motivated by income, whereas nonsupporters most frequently criticized the low price of timber. Both groups expressed concern about the potential environmental impacts of logging. By gender, supportive men were more motivated by financial aspects, whereas supportive women pointed to improved physical assets. Men opposed to the logging project highlighted governance issues, whereas nonsupportive women tended to express environmental concerns. Our study corroborates previously documented interests (and needs) of residents to develop alternative income-generating livelihood opportunities. Further, most interviewed residents expressed support for a more locally customized logging project, indicating that a lack of resident inclusion in project development generated much of the project controversy. Our study highlights both economic development and comanagement governance challenges of sustainable-use protected areas and how project interventions relate to well-being of forest residents.

Key words

Brazilian Amazon; comanagement; extractive reserves; livelihoods; timber; well-being

Copyright © 2018 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087