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Conservation Research Institute


CCI Conservation Seminar - Wed 8th March, 5 to 6 pm

Dr Katy Roucoux, University of St Andrews

Sociocultural and ecological perspectives on the peatlands of Peruvian Amazonia

Authors: Katherine H. Roucoux, Nina D. Laurie, Althea L. Davies, Edward T.A. Mitchard, Euridice N. Honorio, Manuel Martín Brañas, Nallarett Dávila†, Christopher Schulz, Luis Andueza, Lydia E.S. Cole, Charlotte Wheeler, Ian T. Lawson, Jhon del Aguila Pasquel, Dennis del Castillo Torres

Institutions: University of St Andrews, University of Edinburgh, Instituto de Investigacion de la Amazonía Peruana (IIAP)

The recently described peatlands of northern Peru are the largest in Amazonia and are relatively intact compared with peatlands elsewhere in the tropics. They make an important contribution to regional biodiversity and, by sequestering carbon, to climate change mitigation. Research to date has focused on their physical and biological aspects, but peatlands are not simply natural phenomena: they are used, valued and understood socially and culturally in profoundly different ways by different groups of people. Our research uses an interdisciplinary participatory approach, working with peatland communities and stakeholders in Peru, to bring together the different perspectives needed to produce a comprehensive understanding which the natural sciences cannot achieve alone. Our three central aims are to 1) characterise the ecology and sociocultural values of the ecosystem types identified by local communities; 2) identify the strategies and challenges around community management of natural resources; and 3) identify opportunities for peatland conservation and maintenance of livelihoods. The main outcome so far is an understanding of the multifaceted importance of peatlands to local communities. The resources and spaces provided by peatland ecosystems are important culturally and socioeconomically to all the communities studied, but with pronounced differences relating to the communities’ different sociocultural and economic experiences and contexts. Another striking finding is that the nature of communities’ relationships with external actors, and their exposure to different opportunities and challenges, varies markedly from one community to another. For example, the communities we studied have experienced different interventions, some more successful and enduring than others, by government agencies and NGOs focusing mainly on biodiversity conservation and the success or otherwise of these past projects is likely to be an important factor determining the willingness of communities to engage with future conservation efforts. We conclude that future peatland conservation efforts and sustainable development projects in Peruvian Amazonia must recognize the significant differences between communities in the ways that they use and value peatlands, and in their wider socio-economic and cultural contexts. Long-term protection of the peatlands will only be possible by engaging with communities individually, accounting for the concerns, needs, desires, threats, and opportunities particular to each one.

In person participants don't need to register - just turn up.

Online participants need to register via Eventbrite for a Zoom link

Drinks will follow in the DAB Common Room.

Note: Seminar is from 5 to 6 pm not 4 to 5 pm

Wednesday, 8 March, 2023 - 17:00 to 18:00
Event location: 
Main Seminar Room, David Attenborough Building