The Political Ecology of a “Forest Transition”: Eucalyptus Forestry in the Southern Peruvian Andes

Luzar, Jeffrey
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
In numerous peasant communities of the Peruvian Andes, the eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus globulus Labill.), an introduced species from Australia, represents a fundamental component of the rural livelihood system. This study examines the ways in which a forest transition--the partial reforestation of this region through eucalyptus plantation forestry--has, in addition to providing a valuable resource, transformed peasant economic and land tenure systems and shaped the position that peasant communities have assumed in Peruvian political and economic systems in recent decades. During the agrarian reforms of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the state promoted large-scale eucalyptus forestry, partially as a means of strengthening its political presence in the countryside. More recently, in the wake of structural adjustment, non-governmental actors--namely NGOs and private business--by engaging in rural forestry, entered the political and economic vacuum created by a receding state apparatus. Applying a political ecological perspective to a case study from southern Peru, this study looks specifically at the role that this widespread introduced species has played in shaping land tenure institutions, market integration, and peasant interactions with the state, outside NGOs and businesses.
ethnobotany, politics, rural development, rural economics, community forestry, reforestation, tropical and subtropical forestry, Eucalyptus globulus, Peru, peasantry, plantation forestry, land tenure, case studies, nongovernmental organizations, interviews, land reform, Andes Mountain region
Luzar J. 2007. The political ecology of a “forest transition”: eucalyptus forestry in the southern Peruvian Andes. Ethnobotany Research & Applications 5:85-93.
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