A Cross-Cultural Study of Human Impacts on the Rain Forest Environment in Ecuador

Flora L. Holt, Stanford University
Richard Bilsborrow, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The impact of modernizaton on lowland Amerindians and their land use is of great concern to anthropologists and policy-makers. This is especially true in Ecuador, which is losing about 1.8% of its Amazon forests per year--the highest loss rate of any Amazon basin country. In 2001, Richard Bilsborrow and Flora Holt co-led a research project in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon investigating how market integration, proximity to infrastructure, demographic patterns, and socio-cultural characteristics influence land use among five Native Amazonian populations. Demographic, ethnographic, and socio-economic research was carried out among eight communities encompassing a cross-cultural sample of the Shuar, Quichua, Huaorani, Cofan, and Secoya. A combination of qualitative and quantitative methodologies were used, from time allocation studies, input-output household dairies and GIS, to participant observation, formal interviews and life histories. This talk will present our preliminary findings of the factors influencing land clearing across and within these populations.

Presented in Session 36: Human Impacts on the Environment