CHRISTINE PADOCH is a Curator in the Institute of Economic Botany of the New York Botanical Garden. An ecological anthropologist by training, she has studied smallholder agriculture, agroforestry, and forest management in many areas of the humid tropics, including Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Amazon floodplain in Brazil and Peru. She is currently working on a book about the diversity, complexity, and dynamism is smallholder resource management.
Over the last two decades many conservationists have promoted the recognition of local forest dwellers in Amazonia as wise and prudent forest ecologists and managers. Appreciation of local knowledge and management has, however, often been selective and based on an incomplete understanding of complex patterns. Thus certain types of forest knowledge and certain groups of Amazonian forest managers have been largely ignored or misunderstood. Such unappreciated bodies of knowledge include the integrated forest management technologies of the riberenos/ribeirinhos of the Amazon floodplain, specifically their timber management techniques. As in other tropical forest areas, the integrated nature of this management system has been misinterpreted and inappropriate conservation policies have been implemented that threaten some aspects of indigenous knowledge and disenfranchise some groups.
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