Cocaine is extracted from coca: a native bush from the Amazon rainforest. Coca is mostly grown in remote areas to avoid government intervention, and it has been increasingly cultivated inside protected areas (PAs). The effects of coca cultivation on the preservation of PAs are largely unknown. This research uses panel data (2006–2008) from a total of 684 farmers to evaluate the influence of coca growing on the acceptance of PAs, using as case study a farmer community located within the buffer zone of Bahuaja-Sonene National Park (Peru). All farmers are coffee growers and some complement their income with coca production. The area has not been subject of forced coca eradication activities. The data were analyzed using probit models with covariance matrix correction for cluster errors by year, with and without interaction effects. The results suggest that coca growers are more likely to state a positive opinion about the PA than non-coca growers. This may reflect the fact that non-coca growers need extensive areas of land for coffee cultivation in order to approach the economic benefits obtained by farmers who also grow coca. However the likelihood of stating a positive opinion by coca growers decreases the higher the perception that coca cultivation has increased in the region. Coca growers may be afraid that large coca areas would lead to the implementation of forced eradication activities. In such a case, the BSNP would restrict the access to remote land resources, which in turn decreases the support for this PA.
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