3. The palcazu project: forest management and native yanesha communities.
Journal of Sustainable Forestry, 1, (1), 1992, pp. 97-123
This paper presents some of the background and the current operations of a novel management system incorporating landholders in tropical forestry.
The Palcazu Valley ist mostly in the Cerro de Pasco department in the central selva region of Peru.
The Palcazu project began in 1981 as a part of the larger scheme of regional development in the central selva of Peru. The regional plan was part of an even larger national plan for development of the tropical
The Palcazu forest project is socially as well as ecologically oriented.
The pilot program is taking place among native Amazonian Indians, the Yenesha of eastern Peru.
The two features of the forestry component of the Palcazu project that make it unusual are its involvement with Amazon Indians and the uniqueness of the strip-shelterbelt natural forest management system.
As this paper emphasizes, the social ties, knowledge of the forest, values placed on forest preservation, communal land tenure patterns, and willingness to work toward a common goal all militate for involvement of the project with the Yanesha in forest management.
For the forest management system to spread as a general model, people other than Indians will need to be included.
As this article attempts to make explicit, there are a number of ecological reasons why this kind of forest management should be promulgated. A balanced perspective would probably be that the social model proposed by the Palcazu project requires investment in quite different sectors than the usual forest exploitation with attendant high training costs, but that the extra effort may well be worth it if the outcome is rational forest management and stable social systems.
Technically, some problems have surfaced with the extraction system, especially the use of oxen with a population that has no tradition with them as draft animals. Oxen also require superior forage which involves an entire other subsystem of pasture maintenance just for the draft animals. There may be relatively low-cost and low-ecological-impact mechanical means of removing logs from the strips that can be developed.
Economically, the project still requires some subsidies both in supports to cooperative workers and in technical assistance. This support is currently being provided by World Wildlife Fund.
On the positive side, the market for preserved posts, initially very weak, has improved recently.
Failure of the forestry cooperative would have severe socioeconomic and political consequences for the Yanesha people, perhaps calling into question their very survival as an indigenous culture.
The Palcazu project points the way for future natural forest management projects, both in its unusual approach to forest management and in its social assumptions. Its survival during more than five years of national and regional political turmoil is largely due to the strong sense of ownership and commitment by the Yanesha cooperative members.
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Latin America, Mexico, study, tropical forestry, mahagony forest tenure, silviculture, tree yield, research, DESFIL, USAID
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