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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

Forest conservation versus indigenous forest territory rights in the Peruvian Amazon: the case of the Kechwa-Lamas village Alto Huaja and the roles of external actors

Egerlid, Josefin; Marquardt, Kristina; Bartholdson, Örjan


The current competition for land in the Peruvian Amazon is a challenge to indigenous communities without legal ownership of their customary lands. This study analyses the strategies of Alto Huaja, a Kechwa-Lamas village in the region of San Martín, to gain possession over a forest area which they consider their ancestral territory. It explores how this struggle is influenced by external actors and ideas of how indigenous territories should be governed. Through a governmentality lens, we explore two tenure arrangements under discussion in San Martín - conservation concession and title - their rationales and their possible consequences for Alto Huaja. Data were collected through observation in Alto Huaja and interviews with nine organisations (governmental, non-governmental and indigenous), connected to Alto Huaja. Findings suggest that Kechwa-Lamas' control over their ancestral lands is becoming more tied to doing conservation than gaining rights as indigenous peoples. This could turn them from farmers to conservationists.

Published in

International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology
2016, Volume: 12, number: 4, pages: 381-405