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

Abstract

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.

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    Life trajectory of an individual refers to his multiple biographical components such as residential, professional or familial components (Hélardot 2006; Noël et al. 2017). These data are collected within a biographical questionnaire; year by year, the informant indicates where he was living, what he did and what the composition of his /her family was.

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Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the Institut des Amériques and two grants from the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche: ANR AMAZ, coordinated by P. Lavelle, and ANR AGES, coordinated by X. Arnauld de Sartre. For the measurements of ecosystem service indicators, our thanks to Thibaud Decaëns, Marlúcia B. Martins, George G. Brown, Eduardo Dias, Florence Dubs, Gregory Ferreira, Ivaneide S. Furtado, Raphaël Marichal, Catarina Praxedes, Rodolphe Rougerie, Alex Velasquez, Patrick Lavelle, Michel Grimaldi, Izildinha de Souza Miranda, William Santos de Assis, Thierry Desjardins, Tâmara Thaiz Santana Lima, Fernando Michelotti, Danielle Mitja, Norberto Cornejo Noronha, Mariana Nascimento Delgado Oliveira, Max Sarrazin, Mário Lopes da Silva Jr, Simão Lindoso de Souza, Elena Velasquez, De Araujo Fretas Rafael Lui, Valéry Gond, Bernard Hubert, Jean-François Tourrand, Alexender Feijoo, Carla Rocha, and Iran Veiga.

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Solen, L.C., Nicolas, J., de Sartre Xavier, A. et al. Impacts of Agricultural Practices and Individual Life Characteristics on Ecosystem Services: A Case Study on Family Farmers in the Context of an Amazonian Pioneer Front. Environmental Management 61, 772–785 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-018-1004-y

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Keywords

  • Socioecological systems
  • Multiple ecosystem service
  • Deforestation
  • Family agriculture
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Brazilian Amazon