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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2010

Small-scale Farmers' Land Management Strategies in the Upper Amazon: an Action Research Case Study

Marquardt, Kristina; Salomonsson, Lennart; Brondizio, Eduardo


Local agricultural knowledge in the Amazon and its processes of experimentation and diffusion continues to receive scant attention from researchers despite its growing regional importance. This case study has documented and evaluated the broad variety of land management activities which small-scale farmers perform in the Peruvian Upper Amazon in terms of slope-, fallow-, fire‑, weed- and agro-biodiversity management. The research shows that local non-indigenous farmers are testing different strategies in order to handle their situation of erosion and land degradation, and that these land management techniques are relevant from a larger land management perspective. The research also shows that farmers prefer to re-direct soil management related questions to a “forest perspective”, that is, considering the spatial and temporal dynamics of agriculture as related to fallowing cycles and spatial rotation of gardens. This highlights the importance of reflecting on the farmers’ point of departure when talking about agriculture and soil. The conception of soils as a property of the forest, and forest management as the driver of the forest-soil complex, has important implications on how to develop land management processes in the region. The action research approach used in the study strongly supports participatory methods and local, contextually adapted, knowledge and skills in land management programs


Action Research / Amazon / Farmer Knowledge / Land Management / Peru / Swidden Agriculture /

Published in

Interciencia -Caracas-
2010, Volume: 35, number: 6, pages: 421-429