Migration and forests in the Peruvian Amazon: A review

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This paper reviews the literature on the links between migration and forests in the Peruvian Amazon. It highlights not only the complexity of the migrant–forest interface in Peru but also the relative lack of research on these dynamics. Historically, official narratives point to migrants as both the culprits of, and solutions to, the Amazon's problems. At times, the government has promoted colonization of the Amazon as a means to integrate the region into the country as well as to encourage agricultural expansion and alleviate pressure on limited land in the Andes. In other periods, migrants are blamed for deforestation and environmental degradation in the region. These discourses oversimplify the complexity of the reality facing migrants to the Amazon and the factors that 'push' them away from their birthplaces and/or 'pull' them to the Amazon. They also treat migrants as a homogenous group, underestimating: the role of migration within the Amazon, the cyclical nature of migration, processes of urbanization and multi-site households, and the diversity of livelihoods migrants pursue upon arrival. A more detailed understanding of migrants, migration and the related conditions and processes driving human mobility in the Amazon should provide a more effective foundation for defining public policy in the region, for example, for the identification of strategies to mitigate the impacts of road construction or to support sustainable models of production in areas occupied by smallholder farm families. This review is intended as a step toward a fuller understanding of these processes by compiling existing information as a point of departure.

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