Accepted paper:

Tropical rainforests, soybean fields and local population: a case study from the lower Amazon


Karin Marita Naase (University of Marburg)

Paper short abstract:

Subject is the drastic changes of a nature conservation unit and its buffer zone at the Lower Amazon due to mega-infrastructure projects. Of concern is to show how the Brazilian state takes part in this endeavour, what processes are under way and what smallholders’ options and responses are.

Paper long abstract:

The transformation of local population's territories in the Amazon is accompanied by the appropriation of rainforest's bio-resources (land, timber) by migrant farmers and entrepreneurs, who substitute forest gatherer's and smallholders' production into extractive exploration systems. During these processes, local people lose their physical and symbolic landscapes of meaning and belonging, as social and environmental decomposition accelerates. Local people sometimes organize collective action in coalition with social and environmental movements; but often they accept their fate to the detriment of their own rights and well-being. Against this background, I explore the case of the nature conservation unit Flona Tapajós and its buffer zone at the Tapajós River in Brazil, which is undergoing drastic changes for the last decades due to the implementation of mega-infrastructure projects in their sphere of influence, and due to the encroachment of soy-bean production. Of concern is to show how the Brazilian state takes part in this endeavour, what processes are under way and what smallholders' options and responses are. I argue that a) strategic partnerships exist between the private sector and the state; b) the state constantly transforms territories in dependence of the political and economic power play; c) the state facilitates the transformation of commons and other forms of local peoples' land property regimes into commodities; and d) one important instrument hereby is the reclassification and re-labelling of social and ethnic groups through social programmes in order to adjust the population to strategic government planning.

panel P053
Global appropriation of bio-resources and its impacts on local people in international perspective