Winner of the Geneva Award 2018

Impacts of Agricultural Practices and Individual Life Characteristics on Ecosystems Services: A Case Study on Family Farmers in the Context of an Amazonian Pioneer Front

Publication in: Environmental Management, Vol. 61, pages 772 – 785

Authors: Solen Le Clec’h – Nicolas Jégou – Xavier Arnauld de Sartre – Thibaud Decaens – Simon Dufour – Michel Grimaldi – Johan Oszwald

 

In tropical forests farmers are among the most important agents of deforestation. At the interface between societies and their environment, ecosystem services (ES) is an integrated working framework through which natural and anthropogenic dimensions can be addressed. Here, we aimed to understand to what extent farmers impact ES availability. Based on case studies in three locations in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, we performed statistical analyses at 135 sampling points and 110 farms to link socioeconomic and ES data, both derived from field work. The socioeconomic data characterized agricultural production, sociological characteristics, and quality of life. ES data were obtained from statistical analyses that yielded a multiple ES indicator for each sampling point and farm. Our results produced three main findings: first, the establishment of ES associations is due more to agricultural production characteristics than to sociological and quality-of-life factors. Second, the impact of agricultural production on ES availability depends on the level of total incomes. An increase in incomes causes a decrease in the forest cover that provides many ES and an increase in other areas that provide fewer ES. Finally, our analyses show a very strong site effect that probably expresses the heterogeneity of the biophysical contexts, but also the importance for ES availability of the historical depth of deforestation and/or the role of specific public policies. Finding ways of producing an alternative impact on ES availability and establishing specific ES associations will therefore depend more on changes in the global political context than in individual practices.