The composition of rubber tapper livelihoods in Acre, Brazil: a case study of sustainability and peasant economy

Sydneysmith, Robin Sam More (1996) The composition of rubber tapper livelihoods in Acre, Brazil: a case study of sustainability and peasant economy. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Amazonia is both a diverse ecological space and a complex social place in which the
conservation of its varied forest and aquatic environments cannot be divorced from the
fate of its human inhabitants. Rural society is comprised of a wide range of socioeconomic,
cultural, and historical groupings that includes several types of peasants or
peasantries. One of the most important segments of contemporary rural society in
Amazonia consists of traditional or historical peasantries, caboclo society or the so
called "indigenous rural population".
Events of recent decades in the Brazilian Amazon have shown that the region is
susceptible to rapid degradation from modem pressures of development and an
expanding population. Approaches to sustainable development need to reflect the
diversity and complexity of the regions' social and physical environments. Caboclos are
important for their historical place in Amazonian social ecology and for their potential
contribution to the search for viable solutions to sustainable development.
Sustainability will be achieved on the basis of incorporating sustainable livelihoods into
a development paradigm that maintains and improves the social use of resources and the
integrity of ecosystems. Rubber tappers in the state of Acre are a type of Amazonian
caboclo. Their livelihoods exhibit many of the attributes of resiliency and adaptability
that characterize peasantries. Resources are used, based on the demands and capabilities
of household economies and in recognition of their dependence on the forest and its
resources. The livelihoods that rubber tappers pursue are to a large degree, ecologically
sustainable; rubber tappers are practitioners of sustainability. The diversity and
flexibility of their livelihoods is geared towards low impact, long-term use of forest
resources and is highly adaptable to variable socio-political, economic and
environmental conditions.
Extraction of forest resources is a major component of rubber tapper livelihoods that
encompasses rubber tapping, Brazil nut collection, hunting, fishing and myriad uses of
other forest resources. Their livelihoods also include a farming system that is adapted to
both the social conditions of rubber tapper society -limited capital and technology,
dependence on household labour - and to the ecological constraints of Amazonian
environments - weak tropical soils, seasonal changes, and variability. The composition
of their livelihoods permits each sector of the household economy to function within
local environmental constraints and to escape the need to independently fulfill
household subsistence requirements. Extractive reserves provide a locally derived
model of socially acceptable, conservation oriented development.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Flynn, Prof. Peter and Morris, Dr. Arthur
Date of Award: 1996
Depositing User: Miss Louise Annan
Unique ID: glathesis:1996-6734
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2015 09:20
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2015 08:46

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