CORDIS - Résultats de la recherche de l’UE

Development of sustainable agroforestry systems based on indigenous and maroon knowledge in the Guyana shield region

Final Report Summary - GUYAGROFOR (Development of sustainable agroforestry systems based on indigenous and maroon knowledge in the Guyana shield region)

Since the 20th century communities in the rainforests of Suriname, Brazil and Venezuela have been facing increasing pressures on their lands, caused by expanding economic activities. Fighting against further marginalisation and facing imminent threats from environmental destruction, contamination, poverty and cultural demise, these tribal communities are seeking for stronger legal guarantees for the protection of their ancestral lands, their culture and way of life. On the other hand, the national governments are facing the challenge to exploit the potentially rich, however delicate, resources of their countries in accordance to their people mutual interests.

An important asset of native rainforest population is their experience and knowledge of the ecosystem flora and fauna, thus their role in the protection of the environment could be crucial. In this context, the GUYAGROFOR project aimed to develop new strategies, based on traditional practices, for the creation of sustainable agroforestry systems that would support the socioeconomic and organisational empowerment of native populations while contributing to national economies. An interdisciplinary approach was applied to enhance environmental, economical and organisational sustainability, while the different GUYAGROFOR subprojects were identified along these axes. The subproject on biophysical integration and innovation aimed to integrate natives' knowledge on environmental management that would apply state of the art practices. The market chain exploration conducted product chain analyses for the production of economically viable crops and products under environmentally safe conditions. Finally, the subproject on institutional and organisational support and knowledge exchange aimed at facilitating communication between stakeholders and increasing welfare of the local communities through the commercialisation of cash crops, timber and non-timber forest products using sustainable approaches.

Different regions were selected to serve as case study areas during the course of the project. The application of innovative technologies was associated with a slight increase in soil fertility in all cases. No effects were observed on the soil moisture balance in the improved systems. The duration of the experimental phase was too short to derive final conclusions regarding the implemented strategies; nevertheless the obtained results were promising. Integrated farming strategies were identified for all research sites, allowing farming systems to be productive, balanced according to their water and nutrient use, diverse and adapted to the ecology of the forest ecosystem.

Insights in the varying socioeconomic, environmental and organisational conditions that were taken into consideration for decision making were also provided. However, the market chain exploration could not be finalised because the product chains were either very short or inexistent. A bio-economic agroforestry model was developed and tested in order to overcome this difficulty. Specific guidelines and recommendations for sustainable environmental management, product chain improvements and organisational and institutional strengthening of all stakeholders were thus formulated.