The theme of biodiversity and society provides an opportunity to look beyond skewed environmental ideologies that impel biodiversity researchers to ignore land ''tarnished'' by humans in search of ''pristine'' ecosystems. Data reported and analyzed in this paper test and draw conclusions based on a non-partisan stance that recognizes biodiversity as a product of complex natural and anthropogenic interactions. The data in this paper describes this process in the Amazon floodplain of sector Muyuy, Peru. A smallholder tradition of adaptive change in this highly precarious and unstable landscape provides a dynamic foundation upon which biodiversity is produced, managed and conserved. To examine this tradition of appropriate response to change, data was collected on land-cover dynamics using Landsat images and biodiversity inventories and household surveys of resource use technologies and conservation practices were carried out. Through complex agricultural technologies, sector Muyuy smallholders, known as riberenos, use a highly differentiated and dynamic environment to produce a great diversity of crops while creating habitats for endangered and over-exploited species of fish and river turtles, plants, and other species. Riberenos are smallholder farmers, fishermen and forest managers. They are the descendents of several indigenous groups as well as migrants from Europe, Asia and Africa. Most of the rural inhabitants of Peruvian Amazonia are riberenos. In Muyuy, we found that riberenos manage an average of 76 tree species perha, including tropical cedar and other over-exploited timber species. We conclude that meaningful attempts at biodiversity conservation must begin at the interface between ecological and social processes and incorporate locally developed knowledge and practice.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.