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Perspectives 2: Peoples of the Amazon

In Amazonia, as in the rest of the world, people come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like the small farmers, just want to earn an honest living; it's fine to preserve the forest, but not at the expense of the"little guy". Some see the countries of South America as developing economies that must exploit their natural resources to realize their full potential. To many indigenous people, the rainforest is where you "make your living"; preservation of the rainforest is, to them, a matter of life or death.

In order to develop a viable plan for stewardship of the Amazon ecosystem, you will need to persuade all of these stakeholders that your ideas are sound. Try to guess what they regard as "off the table" in the debate, and what might be negotiable. We'll explore these issues in our discussion. Come prepared to play a role....

The Law, Politics, and Economics of Amazonian Deforestation An essay by Emilio Moran of the Anthropological Center for Training and Research on Global Environmental Change, Indiana University, that examines some of the political and legal issues of resource development in Brazil. Can the Mission 2006 plan embrace the Brazilian government's concern that Brazilians play the fundamental role in deciding on the fate of Brazil's resources?

The Assault Continues (International Wildlife Magazine, November 1998).Writer Mac Margolis provides a nice introduction to the stakeholders in the Brazilian state of Acre, home of the late rainforest crusader Chico Mendes.

Pushed to the Edge (Natural History Magazine, March 1999).Briefly reviews the impact of subsistence farming on rainforest degradation, and stresses the socioeconomic issues that must be addressed by viable conservation programs.

Indian Land Rights and Land Conflicts in Brazil (Contemporary Review Magazine, September 1999). How do you balance the rights of indigenous peoples with the rights of other citizens in a developing nation?