Forest communities and small farmers in the Brazilian Amazon are important actors in the sustainable management of the forest, as they control nearly 60% of public forests in the Brazilian Amazon [1
]. Although the potential of community forest management (CFM) to increase the standard of living of rural communities and to fight poverty has been widely assessed in the literature [2
], fewer studies have examined the specificity of Brazilian Amazon conditions [5
]. One particularity of Amazonian rural economies is the interplay between agriculture and forest management. Government sponsored colonization of the Brazilian Amazon started in the early 1970s and led to the creation of more than 500,000 km2
of agrarian settlements occupied by small farmers [8
]. Each colonist family usually received a 100 ha land unit. The current Brazilian forest code states that in Amazonia, 50% to 80% of land holdings must remain as permanent forest reserve where forest management plans can be executed only after approval by authorities. However, in practice, many land holdings have already been deforested beyond these limits. The colonization of the Brazilian Amazon has destroyed nearly 18% of the Amazon forest, corresponding to about 70 million ha [9
]. Deforestation continues mainly in three states (Pará, Mato Grosso and Rondônia) where the main roads connecting the Amazon states with the economic heart of the south were opened during the colonization of the region [9
As a result of government policies, satellite monitoring and on the ground enforcement, the deforestation rate in the Brazilian Amazon has decreased considerably over a period of six years to reach its lowest level in 2012: 400,000 ha year−1 versus
2.7 million ha year−1
in 2004 [9
]. This represents a 76% reduction in comparison with the mean deforestation rate recorded for the period 1995–2006—close to the country’s commitment to reduce deforestation in the Amazon region by 80% by 2020 using the 1995–2006 period as a baseline. Part of this decrease is the result of several government measures to fight deforestation including establishing protected areas, using command-and-control measures, introducing economic instruments including payments for environmental services, and creating policies that affect the drivers of deforestation [10
]. However, the most recent assessment of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon revealed a 30% increase in comparison with the rate measured in 2012 [12
]. The main reasons for this increase have not been yet rigorously investigated.
More than 12 million ha of permanent forest reserves are estimated to be still held by small farmers in agricultural settlements [13
]. Promoting sustainable forest management and incorporating it in agrarian production systems will play a key role in the fight against deforestation in the near future. For more than 40 years, settlers in the Amazon have been pursuing the same strategy: they clear the forest to grow food crops (principally maize, rice and cassava). After two or three years, the soil loses its fertility and the land becomes unproductive. The farmers then convert their plots into pasture, since ranching is the most profitable short term activity. To meet their need for cultivated land, they then cut down more trees, clearing up to three hectares per year, which is the legal limit. If each of the 460,000 smallholder farming families [11
] cleared just one hectare of forest per year, the total would reach 4600 km2
, exceeding the 3900 km2
target set for 2020. It is consequently vital that the smallholder farmers have access to technology and practices that succeed in making their systems more productive and help them manage soil fertility more effectively. This requires the creation of mixed forestry-farming-ranching systems that enhance the economic value of natural forest at the same time as protecting it, and also increase agricultural productivity.
Because it is almost impossible for rural populations to implement forest management plans involving logging themselves, partnerships between communities and logging companies have been considered as a possible way to promote sustainable forest management in agricultural settlements in the Brazilian Amazon [8
]. In such partnerships, farmers sell their standing timber to a logging company, which is then responsible for drawing up a forest management plan, submitting it to authorities for approval, and finally for implementing the plan (see [6
] for further details).
In the context of community and family forest management, multiple forest use has been considered as a possible pathway to increase the incomes of forest communities while conserving the ecological functions of forest ecosystems [14
]. One of the expected advantages of combining timber harvesting with NTFPs is generating alternative income during the timber rotation cycle, which usually corresponds to a period of at least 30 years (Garcia-Fernandez et al.
2008, Sist et al.
2008). Although multiple forest management practices are still common worldwide, their adoption in formal forest management models, especially in the tropics, has serious technical and economic limitations [16
]. In the Amazon, multiple use forest management has high potential, as more than 40% of timber species also provide non-timber products [17
], some of the main products on existing markets being andiroba
oil (Carapa guianensis
seeds (Dipteryx odorata
Aubl. Willd), copaiba oil (Copaifera
spp.) and Brazil nuts (Bertholletia a excels
Humb. and Bonpl). Nevertheless, yet the potential role of multiple forest management for settlement communities and the conditions for its successful incorporation in agrarian production systems are still very poorly known and poorly documented [8
The present study builds on the results of a research and development project implemented in the Moju agrarian settlement near the city of Santarém, in the state of Pará (Brazil). Our aim was to assess both the contribution of multiple use forest management project to small farmers’ income and the conditions that favor or limit the development of forest management systems by small farmers in the Brazilian Amazon.
The mean logging intensity in the study area ranged from 13 to 16 m3
. The timber recovery simulations indicated that for the next harvest in 35 years, the expected timber volume will range from 3 to 18 m3
. Harvesting a similar volume of timber in 35 years to that extracted in 2008–2009 would require maintaining high growth rates of the remaining potential crop trees as simulated in scenarios 2 (0.35 cm year−1
) or 3 (0.5 cm year−1
). However, post-logging growth rates reported in the region are relatively modest (0.2 cm year−1
]) and only post logging silvicultural treatment would be capable of maintaining growth rates of potential crop trees in the range of 0.3–0.5 as simulated in scenarios 2 and 3. Without any silvicultural intervention, or an increase in the rotation cycle to at least 60 years, the volume harvested at the next rotation is likely to be much lower than that harvested during the first logging operations. Long-term data on post logging forest dynamics are still needed to provide more accurate estimation of timber yield.
Because of the high variability of timber density in the forest, the income generated by logging varied considerably from one farm forest reserve to another. The mean annual income from logging remained modest compared to the income from agriculture, although it did represent a complementary income of about 10% of annual income from agriculture (R$856 vs.
R$8,669). On a per hectare basis, the mean annual income from timber sales was even lower compared to agricultural income (R$13 ha−1
, US$7 to US$346 ha−1
, Table 6
). However, it is important to point out that the one shot logging income received by each farmer represents a significant amount of money, from R$10,620 to R$61,320 (US$5,800 to US$33,508). This represents 3 to 20 times the annual income generated by the type 1 agrarian system. The price of R$30 m−3
(US$16) paid by the MAFLOPS logging company could be considered low compared to the sales price at the sawmill (mean price of round wood in Pará state = US$118 per m3
]). However, in the partnership agreement between MAFLOPS and the farmers, the entire cost of drawing up and executing the forest management plan—including transport of the timber to the sawmill—is carried by the logging company. MAFLOPS is also responsible for the maintenance of the main access roads to the settlement, which legally speaking, is the responsibility of the government.
Considering a rotation cycle of 35 years and the low productivity of timber (less than 1 m3
/ha/year), the incomes generated by timber harvesting mainly depend on the size of the forest area harvested each year. It is clear that 67 ha of forest reserve area harvested at 35-year intervals cannot generate a high income. Community forests covering several thousand ha managed for timber harvest, like in the Tapajos National Forest located near the study area, indeed generate much higher annual incomes, between US$4,742 and US$5,347 year−1
]. Moreover, in the region neighboring the Trans-amazon Highway road, Drigo et al.
] reported that annual incomes generated by logging carried by a cooperative of farmers generated an annual economic benefit of US$1,921 per farmer. Although, this is much higher than the annual income calculated in the present study (R$856), the investment costs (i.e.
, inventory costs; preparation of the forest management plans, annual operational plans; hiring of a forest engineer) were not taken into account as these costs were covered by a government program to promote community forest management [7
]. Although communities are generally poorly informed about these costs, Drigo et al.
] estimated them to exceed US$100,000 while Medina and Pokorny [36
] estimated that the start-up costs of eight Brazilian Amazonian community forest enterprises ranged from US$22,400 to 348,000 (not adjusted for inflation). These investment costs were associated with the laborious administrative procedures required for the approval of the forest management plan by the State authorities, which usually takes two years. Such administrative costs are therefore the main limiting factors for community and family forest management in the Brazilian Amazon [5
]. In these conditions, partnerships between logging companies and farmers are an alternative way for farmers to receive income from their forest without having to bear the prohibitive investment costs of drawing up forest management plans on their own. However, in practice, the partnerships between logging companies and farmers are generally informal (no legal agreements) and in most cases, favor the companies which usually pay very low prices for standing trees (e.g., R$10, Sablayrolles et al.
], Menton et al.
]. The partnership conditions between MAFLOPS and the farmers in the study areas are more profitable for the farmers than those described with informal logging companies, but are certainly not the most frequent type of partnership in the region.
In our study, the economic viability of the production of andiroba
oil depended on three main factors. First the availability of the fruits, as Carapa guianensis
is known for its irregular fruit production from year to year [29
]. During a poor fruit production period, oil production will not generate a profit even under the scenario with the highest sales price of R$80. Second, according to our simulations, the minimum price to cover production costs is R$25 L−1
, and prices of R$50 or 80 would ensure higher profits. Third, the abundance of adult Carapa guianensis
trees varies considerably among the permanent forest reserves of the farms and tree density will play a major role in the economic viability of oil production. For a sales price of R$50 to 80, the minimum number of adult trees in a forest reserve required to ensure economic sustainability was 15 and 18 trees respectively but increased to 62 trees for a sales price of R$25 (Figure 5
According to our estimates, the highest mean annual incomes generated by the permanent forest reserve of a farm would be R$2,841 (R$856 from timber and R$1,985 from andiroba oil production with a sales price of R$80, US$1,552), which are close to those generated by type 1 basic agricultural production system (R$3,000 or US$1,640) but five times lower than those generated by the intensive pepper production system (type 4). The maximum annual income from the forest is insignificant if calculated with respect to the mean area of the forest reserve (R$43/ha, US$24) and compared to that of the basic agriculture production system (R$857, US$476). Moreover, during periods of low fruit production, oil production is not economically viable and no income will be generated. Depending on the frequency of low fruit production years, the mean annual income for a period of several years) might be two or three times lower than that estimated in our study. This is the main limitation of this study, as we were unable to continue monitoring both timber reconstitution and andiroba fruit production over a period of several years.
Finally, the direct economic benefits from multiple forest use are well below less tangible regional and international benefits associated with the ecosystem regulation services of Amazonian forests. i.e.
, under a scenario that compensates for avoided degradation, the possible economic value of carbon stocks lost in logging operations is higher than the price paid to farmers for timber [37
]; secondly, and possibly more relevant, disturbance of the regulation of regional rainfall regimes caused by forest loss [38
], may result in water scarcity in the future and hence in important economic losses that are not taken into account when considering the economic value of multiple forest use at the present time. Current instruments for transforming regional and worldwide benefits from tropical forests into local economic benefits are not sufficient to fill this gap. The conceptual underpinnings of multiple-use forest management (MFM) for timber and non-timber values in tropical forests were laid down almost 20 years ago [15
]. Since then, only a few MUFM systems have been implemented in the tropics, the most cited examples being those implemented in Guatemala and Mexico [14
]. If multiple use management in tropical forests is recognized to be the preferred alternative, in practice, so far, it has remained an elusive goal and is largely ignored as a forest management alternative by stakeholders of the forestry sector.
Although, the present study is not representative of multiple use forest management systems in all regions, it is one of the few case studies to assess the economic performance of a multiple-use forest management system in a small farmers’ settlement, and thus provides important information on the potential and the limitation of such systems.
In this study, the mean annual economic benefits from multiple forest use are the same as the least productive farm production system, but only equivalent to 25% of the annual income generated by the most productive system. These figures reveal the limits of multiple forest use when compared to income generated by agriculture. Nevertheless, although income generated by logging may be considered low when calculated on an annual basis and compared to income generated by agriculture, the cash payment after logging represent a significant amount of cash that could be used to implement more intensive and productive cropping systems such as planting pepper. Establishing 1 ha of black pepper in the region was estimated to cost R$2,796 (US$1,528) [39
]. The income from the forest could therefore be used to increase the income from agriculture through a shift to high value crops such as pepper. Other possible investments could also be establishing permanent fields for highly productive annual crops using conservation agriculture techniques, which also require high investment (R$3,000 ha−1
for 1 ha of rice or corn) but would result in a significant increase in crop productivity (from 4 to 5 T ha−1
) in comparison with the traditional crop production system (less than 1 T ha−1
, Sist, et al.
While until recently, large farms were estimated to be responsible for 75% of the deforestation vs.
25% for small landholders [41
], analysis of recent satellite images showed that deforestation in smaller land units has increased significantly in the last few years [42
]. The cause of this new trend might be a higher proportion of deforestation by small farmers who are having difficulty adapting their own practices to the new laws against deforestation [11
]. If this is the case, there is an urgent need to find alternatives to the traditional form use of land by small farmers, based on periodic clearing of forest land. The income generated by forest management might be part of the solution to enable small farmers to invest in these new alternatives. Nevertheless, the shift in current agriculture practices towards more sustainable conservation agriculture techniques will also require technical and legal support from the State to help small farmers implement alternatives whose aim is to integrate forest management in sustainable agricultural production systems.
Finally the Brazilian forest still poorly take into consideration the condition of small farmers or communities (low investment capacity, poor knowledge of forestry techniques, and poor connections with timber markets) and legislation is undoubtedly more in favor of the mechanized intensive selective logging practiced by forest companies than local small scale forestry. It is therefore crucial to revise current legislation in order to take the specific conditions of small scale forestry carried out by small farmers and forest communities into account.