Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 351–360 | Cite as

Rain forest ‘conservation-through-use’? Chambira palm fibre extraction and handicraft production in a land-constrained community, Peruvian Amazon

  • Oliver T. Coomes


Does the use of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) lead to species conservation and protection of the tropical rain forest? This paper examines the use and fate of the chambira palm (Astrocaryum chambira) – a prime candidate for ‘conservation-through-use’– around a traditional peasant community in northeastern Peru where land scarcity has forced households to draw increasingly on NTFPs to supplement their incomes, including palm fibre for the production of handicrafts. Using household survey data (n = 36), we identify the specific factors that influence handicraft production, household use and economic reliance on palm fibre-based handicrafts, and the planting (semi-domestification) of the chambira palm. Our findings question the promise of rain forest ‘conservation-through-use’ and indicate the scope of challenges for species conservation, particularly among the rural poor.

Amazonia Non-timber forest products Peru Rainforest conservation Rainforest peoples 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oliver T. Coomes
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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