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The Mauritia flexuosa market chain of Iquitos, Peru: Description and implications for conservation.

Authors: Chelsie Romulo*, University of Northern Colorado, Michael P Gilmore, George Mason University, Christopher J Kennedy, George Mason University, Christa Horn, San Diego Zoo, Bryan A Endress, Oregon State University
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, South America, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: Economic Botany, Non-Timber Forest Products, Deforestation, Conservation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2020
Start / End Time: 12:30 PM / 1:45 PM
Room: Virtual Track 1
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Mauritia flexuosa is an economically and ecologically important palm found throughout the Amazon rainforest. In the Peruvian Amazon the fruit is harvested by individuals in hundreds of communities to be sold in larger cities, and most of this fruit is harvested by felling the palm. Despite the importance of this species both for rural livelihoods and for regional biodiversity, the market chain has not been analyzed for almost 30 years, and has never been thoroughly described. Additionally, although sustainable climbing methods for harvest have been developed and various governmental and non- governmental organizations have conducted educational workshops in climbing and ecosystem health, the regional market has never been assessed to determine the prevalence of climbing or the potential impacts of cutting. Here a market analysis is presented derived from interview analysis of every major stakeholder group, including interactions between and among stakeholders as well as implications for conservation in the largest fruit producing watershed outside the city of Iquitos, Peru. A conservative estimate is that 86% of the fruit from the Marañón watershed were harvested by cutting in 2012-2013, which translates to almost 40,000 palms cut in one year for the Marañón watershed alone. As is common with non-timber forest products (NTFPs), most market power and financial gains are controlled by intermediary sellers. It is expected that conservation activities relying on market-based approaches may be less effective than direct engagement with harvesters unless there are also changes to the current market system.

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