Road building, Development discourse, and Sustainability in the Amazon Borderlands of Ucayali, Peru-Acre, Brazil

Authors: David S. Salisbury*, University of Richmond, Stephanie A. Spera, University of Richmond, Yunuen Reygadas Langarica, University of Richmond
Topics: Latin America, Cultural and Political Ecology, Spatial Analysis & Modeling
Keywords: Amazonia, Borders, Deforestation, Integration, Roads, Peru, Brazil
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 30
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Amazonian regional governments generate development plans and pursue international agreements couched in the discourse of sustainability, low carbon emissions, and standing forest. The last few years have also seen a dramatic acceleration in the titling of Indigenous homelands in the culturally and ecologically rich, and remote, Amazon borderlands. Despite sustainability frameworks and Indigenous self-determination advances, Amazonian road proposals and initiatives continue to proliferate and target the borderlands. The infrastructure initiatives belie not only governmental discourse, but also scientific analysis of the environmental, social, and economic impacts of road infrastructure expansion in tropical rainforests. Existing research indicates road building may lead to increased deforestation, forest degradation, and loss of ecosystem services for local and Indigenous peoples as logging, mining and other resource extraction expands along with increased illegal crop cultivation and drug trafficking and in migration. This research uses a mixed methodology combining geospatial analysis with Geographic Information Systems and remote sensing with key informant interviews and document research of historical accounts, scientific studies, project reports, legal documents, news articles and existing maps to compare land use and land cover change along two different road corridors through two different portions of the Acre-Ucayali border: one separated by a unique mountain range and protected areas and the other connected by a transboundary river and Indigenous territories with shared cultures. What is the potential outcome of these two different road building initiatives, how can they be compared, and what can we learn in the context of the development discourse used by both governments

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