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Research Report

Under the canopy: Gender and forests in Amazonia

Marianne Schmink
Marliz Arteaga Gómez-García
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2015
Pages: 45
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)

    Amazonian forests are a growing focus of global attention due to concerns about tropical deforestation, climate change, greenhouse gasses and REDD+ (initiatives to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation), energy security, agribusiness and food security, and indigenous land rights (Mai et al. 2011, 246; Vazquez 2013, 11). Encompassing the largest expanses of remaining tropical forests in the world, which make up about 6 million km² of the region’s total area of 6.5 million km², Amazonian forests were also home to an estimated 33 million inhabitants in 2009 (UNEP 2009,133; De Jong et al. 2010). The diverse types of forests...

  2. (pp. 3-4)

    In 2013 the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) Forests and Livelihoods team commissioned a review of gender research on forest and property rights in the Amazon to help guide future research programs. As a contribution to addressing these serious gaps in the literature, we conducted a wide-ranging search for literature (in English, Spanish and Portuguese) using a diverse set of key words (Gender and forest in Latin America; gender and forest; access to land in Latin America; gender and forest in the Amazon; mujer y Amazonia; mulher e Amazonia; mujer y bosque en Latinoamérica; mulheres e florestas na América)...

  3. (pp. 5-6)

    The men and women in indigenous, riverine, colonist, rubber tapper and other forest communities of the Amazon may be largely invisible to outsiders (Vadjunec and Schmink 2012) but they occupy large expanses of territories that they have claimed and occupied in many different ways and therefore defy generalization (Almeida 2011). National policies have strongly influenced land and forest use, including tax and subsidy policies favoring cattle and logging and formal land titling requirements that encourage forest clearing to demonstrate “improvements.” In Brazil, distortions in agrarian, forest and environmental policies, laws and regulations and their implementation have contributed to insecure property...

  4. (pp. 7-12)

    Cultural, historical, and institutional patterns have led gender relations in Amazonia to be highly diverse, and in flux – 420 distinct indigenous Amazonian peoples in a population of more than one million speak 86 languages, and 650 different dialects (UNEP 2009, 72). The uneven coverage of locations and social groups in the existing literature makes it difficult to make generalizations. Moreover, cultural beliefs and practices are evolving rapidly in the Amazon region in ways that have not been adequately documented. Nonetheless, several commonly reported features of gender relations in the Amazon, listed below, provide a point of departure for understanding...

  5. (pp. 13-20)

    There is little focus on gender in the extensive literature on community management of forests (CFM) in Latin America. CFM has been a focus of many initiatives in Central and South America since the 1990s, although the extent to which community-based timber management projects have led to greater local control over forests varies widely due to global, regional, and local social and political structures, as well as the internal inequalities within communities (Alcorn 2014; Stone 2003: 3). The 15-year BOLFOR project in Bolivia (funded by USAID) supported the development of forest timber management legislation and infrastructure and promoted community forest...

  6. (pp. 21-25)

    Because of the widespread tradition of men representing their households in the public sphere, often the male head is the only household member who joins and represents the household in Amazonian community associations, and when women do attend community assemblies, they often remain silent (Stone 2003, 276). This effectively removes women from many of the spaces and institutions where key decisions are made about the future of their forests, their family and community. Studies on women’s participation in governance have tended to ignore community and territorial levels, in the Amazon as well as elsewhere (Bose and van Dijk 2013, 4)....

  7. (pp. 26-28)

    The findings of this literature review reveal a lack of recent systematic research on the diverse forms of gender relations among forest populations of the Amazon region, despite the importance of this topic for forest management, community food security, sustainable livelihoods and the capacity of Amazonian people to respond to external pressures and changing climates. Since the 1970s, evidence from existing literature suggests that gender relations have been changing across the Amazon as part of the greater socioeconomic and ecological transformations underway throughout the basin. As women have found greater visibility for their productive activities, interests and capabilities, they have...