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Small farmer forest management practices in the Amazon: An analysis of the conditions that promote innovation

concluded 12/2010

 1) Background

  • Conventional forest management practices applied to small scale forest management with limited success.abgeschlossen
  • Small farmers manage forests in different ways which are rarely taken into consideration in the development of management systems.
  • Little attention is paid to how successive marginal improvements to these may constitute a basis for alternative silvicultural systems.
  • There are successful local dissemination mechanisms, but these are rarely perceived by externals.

2) Hypothesis

Success of efforts for the development and transfer of technology in forest management depends to high degree on how far processes correspond to traditional innovation schemes.

3) Objectives and research questions

  • What are these innovative practices related to forests?
  • What is the origin of these practices?
  • What processes and mechanisms have allowed practices to be developed
  • What conditions are necessary for this to occur?

4) Methods

Research will be carried out in two phases. During the first phase all ForLive cases and their neighbours will be visited and basic descriptions of current management practices described applying a standardised methodology. This will involve participatory mapping, transects (walks) and identification of key events and interventions and semi structured interviews. The second phase will select four cases where innovative forest management practices are being applied. During this second phase research objective is to map innovation networks and diffusion pathways in order to facilitate how innovation occurs.
The research will attempt to:

  1. Establish the origin of the practice
  2. Classify the actors involved and the extent to which they have contributed to the innovation
  3. Identify externally driven innovation schemes and their effects and impacts
  4. Compare externally driven technology development and transfer with local innovation processes

The mapping of formal and informal exchanges within and beyond the local network will enable the development of an understanding of how local innovation schemes are structured and organised in a range of situations. This will then permit the description of the process of development or evolution of the innovative practice in question and to map adaptive variations of the practice. The mapping exercise will also create a better understanding of how local social networks can affect and be affected by technology development processes.

5) Study areas

Possible cases for second phase of research

  1. Cajarí Brazil Nut cooperative: Amapá, Brazil
  2. Simplified forest management, Ecuador
  3. Integrated forest management and agroforestry, Palmira, Bolivia
  4. Amabosque Peru 

6) Expected outcomes

  • Greater understanding of how and why small farmers develop forest.
  • Analysis of scope to support innovation of management practices by small farmers.
  • Implications for research and extension organisations and the way in which these operate.





Dr. Benno Pokorny

Researcher: James Johnson

Forlive Project, INCO programme of the European Commission

Duration: 01.06.2005 – 31.12.2010
Main Partners: Universidad Federal Rural da Amazônia (UFRA), Brasil, Asociación para la Investigación y el Desarrollo Integral (AIDER), Peru, Universidad Autónoma de Beni (UAB), Bolivia, Servicio Forestal Amazónico (SFA), Ecuador.









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