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Oil, Roads, Settlers and Timber
Changing landscapes and livelihoods
in Ecuador's Amazon
People have lived in Ecuador’s Amazon forests for thousands of years,
including the indigenous group who made this petrogl...
In the 1960s and 70s, oil companies began exploring Ecuador’s “Oriente” or
eastern region.
To reach their concessions, they began to build roads into the forest, making
once-isolated areas more accessible.
At the same time, government policies encouraged people to move to the
Oriente to farm.
Indigenous people from other parts of the region, and people from elsewhere
in Ecuador began moving in, looking for new la...
They started to change the landscape, clearing small patches of forest for
crops and to feed their animals.
They planted cacao, cassava and coffee amongst the trees. But forest products, especially
timber, are still an important p...
In the last few years, Ecuador’s government has updated the country’s forestry law, and is trying
to bring these small-sca...
New research conducted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in the
provinces of Orellana and Napo is ...
In some communities, the study found, selling timber accounts for up to 50 per cent of
families’ income, although this var...
The research found that forest income is not smallholders’ first option in response to crisis or
shock. However, timber sa...
And many don’t necessarily make much money from the wood they sell, either. The study
found while prices for timber varied...
The intensity of logging varies between families and communities - from one tree to 130
trees per family per year. Those t...
For many smallholders the high costs associated with applying for a management plan – given
the small amount of timber the...
70% of those surveyed in both Orellana and Napo said they cut timber without a
management plan at some point between Augus...
The study suggests governments need to be flexible and adapt regulations to the needs of
smallholders and communities.
Further Reading:
• BLOGS:
• Who buys, who sells, how much? Mapping Ecuador’s timber markets
• Right of return: Sharing res...
CIFOR’s Pro-Formal study is funded by the European Commission.
This research forms part of the:
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Oil, Roads, Settlers and Timber: Changing landscapes and livelihoods in Ecuador's Amazon

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In the Ecuadorian Amazon, CIFOR researchers have been examining the country’s thriving domestic timber market, trying to understand how smallholders and chainsaw millers relate it, and the links to the international timber trade.

The study is available in Spanish here: http://www.cifor.org/online-library/browse/view-publication/publication/4290.html

Photographs by Tomas Munita.

This photo essay is part of a multimedia package on the Amazon rainforest. See more at blog.cifor.org/amazon

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Oil, Roads, Settlers and Timber: Changing landscapes and livelihoods in Ecuador's Amazon

  1. 1. Oil, Roads, Settlers and Timber Changing landscapes and livelihoods in Ecuador's Amazon
  2. 2. People have lived in Ecuador’s Amazon forests for thousands of years, including the indigenous group who made this petroglyph (rock art) in Napo province. They relied on the forests and the rivers for their livelihoods.
  3. 3. In the 1960s and 70s, oil companies began exploring Ecuador’s “Oriente” or eastern region.
  4. 4. To reach their concessions, they began to build roads into the forest, making once-isolated areas more accessible.
  5. 5. At the same time, government policies encouraged people to move to the Oriente to farm.
  6. 6. Indigenous people from other parts of the region, and people from elsewhere in Ecuador began moving in, looking for new land and opportunities.
  7. 7. They started to change the landscape, clearing small patches of forest for crops and to feed their animals.
  8. 8. They planted cacao, cassava and coffee amongst the trees. But forest products, especially timber, are still an important part of many people’s livelihoods in this region.
  9. 9. In the last few years, Ecuador’s government has updated the country’s forestry law, and is trying to bring these small-scale timber producers into the formal system. However, many still harvest timber informally, without a management plan
  10. 10. New research conducted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in the provinces of Orellana and Napo is examining these policies and the dynamics of the domestic timber market from the perspective of the all the different people involved – producers, chainsaw operators, intermediaries and sellers.
  11. 11. In some communities, the study found, selling timber accounts for up to 50 per cent of families’ income, although this varies between Orellana and Napo and between indigenous and colonist villages.
  12. 12. The research found that forest income is not smallholders’ first option in response to crisis or shock. However, timber sales do play an important role in providing basic needs related to health, education, food and housing.
  13. 13. And many don’t necessarily make much money from the wood they sell, either. The study found while prices for timber varied a lot downstream, in the villages, prices stayed low.
  14. 14. The intensity of logging varies between families and communities - from one tree to 130 trees per family per year. Those that harvested timber with a management plan cut around four times as much wood as those working informally.
  15. 15. For many smallholders the high costs associated with applying for a management plan – given the small amount of timber they wanted to harvest – prevented them from working within the system.
  16. 16. 70% of those surveyed in both Orellana and Napo said they cut timber without a management plan at some point between August 2011 and September 2012.
  17. 17. The study suggests governments need to be flexible and adapt regulations to the needs of smallholders and communities.
  18. 18. Further Reading: • BLOGS: • Who buys, who sells, how much? Mapping Ecuador’s timber markets • Right of return: Sharing research results with communities • VIDEO: • Timber and Livelihoods in Ecuador: Barriers to formality • RESEARCH PAPERS: • Smallholders and communities in timber markets: Conditions shaping diverse forms of engagement in tropical Latin America • Oil wealth and the fate of forest: A comparative study of eight tropical countries • POLEX: “Dutch Disease” and forests in Ecuador
  19. 19. CIFOR’s Pro-Formal study is funded by the European Commission. This research forms part of the:

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