Commercial exploitation of non-timber forest products has been playing a major role in the northern Bolivian Amazon for more than a century. Initially relying on the exploitation of rubber, the regional economy underwent a first diversification as a consequence of the post-World War I rubber crisis: rubber tapping became supplemented with subsistence agriculture and Brazil nut extraction. This mode of making one’s living prevailed in the region for several decades until Bolivian rubber trade came to a standstill in the early 1990s. The recent rubber crisis called again for substantial modifications of the regional economy. This paper examines the conversion from a rubber-based economy into production modes making broader use of forest resources. A village-level survey conducted in 163 rural settlements gave evidence that increased commercialisation of Brazil nuts, palm hearts and timber largely offset progressively lower income from rubber exploitation. In addition is likely to exceed natural regeneration rates, and therefore socio-economic needs and ecological requirements are yet to be reconciled in the post-rubber era of the northern Bolivian Amazon.
Topic: brazil nuts,logging,markets,non-timber forest products,rubber,Euterpe precatoria
Geographic: Amazonia,Bolivia,Brazil,Latin America
Publication Year: 2000
Source: International Tree Crops Journal 10(4): 277-297