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GeoJournal

, Volume 78, Issue 1, pp 41–60 | Cite as

Coca and conservation: cultivation, eradication, and trafficking in the Amazon borderlands

  • D. S. Salisbury
  • C. Fagan
Article

Abstract

The cultivation and traffic of coca, Erythrolxylum coca, and coca derivatives remain understudied threats to the conservation of the Amazon rainforest. Currently the crop is transforming land use and livelihoods in the ecologically and culturally rich borderlands of Amazonian Peru. The isolated nature of this region characterized by indigenous populations (both settled and uncontacted), conservation units, resource concessions, and a lack of state presence provides fertile ground for the boom and bust cycle of coca production and facilitates the international transport of the product to neighboring Brazil. This paper explores the social and environmental impacts of coca production, eradication, and transport through an analysis of both spatial and ethnographic data on land use and livelihood strategies along the Ucayali and Purús Rivers. Results map out the regional distribution and recent history of commercial coca fields and transboundary transportation routes and identify threats to the conservation of indigenous landscapes and borderland forests.

Keywords

Coca Conservation Amazonia Border Peru Brazil 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge support from the Blue Moon Fund, ProNaturaleza, The Nature Conservancy, Fulbright-Hays, and the Universidad Nacional de Ucayali’s Centro de Investigación de Fronteras Amazónicas (CIFA). Thanks to Jorge W. Vela Alvarado and CIFA for field support, Jen Lipton and Bill Woods for their expertise and insight, and Greg Knapp, Ken Young, Karl Butzer, Bill Doolittle, Peter Dana and four anonymous reviewers for comments on earlier drafts of this article.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and the EnvironmentUniversity of RichmondRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Centro de Investigación de Fronteras AmazónicasUniversidad Nacional de UcayaliPucallpaPeru
  3. 3.Upper Amazon ConservancyVictorUSA

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