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Policies for sustaining environments and livelihoods in mountain areas


* The main intention of the research is to encourage the uses of environmental resources (particularly vegetation, soils and water) for the benefit of all people.
* A second intention is to improve the understanding of past and present environmental deterioration. We will study the changes which may be a consequence of farming, pollution from towns and mines and the frequency of natural hazards (such as floods, landslides and earthquakes).
* We want to see how people make use of the environment in order to live, and how they maintain its quality.
* The recent changes in land use will be studied to discover patterns of environmental change which may be associated with such use and whether community and regional inequalities have increased.
* Sector policies which influence these changes will be investigated to see if they can be improved for the benefit of all.
Expected Outcome

* Identification of human use factors underlying positive and negative environmental changes.
* Accurate data on how environments have been affected by natural and environmental change factors.
* Natural hazards and related coping strategy identification.
* High quality findings on policy options.
* Delineation of institutional structures coping with environmental changes and stresses.
* Identification of resource uses associated with positive and negative environmental change.
* Assessment of impact of sector policies at a community and regional level.
* Identification of intensive resource uses and their impact on households and environment.
The study will be conducted in the Quebrada de Humahuaca (North-Western Argentina), the central Tarija valleys (Southern Bolivia) and the Colca and Puquina river basins (Southern Peru). A Geographical Information System (GIS) will be established for each study area to show changes in erosion, land use and vegetation over a 10-20 year period and to identify sub-catchments for detailed study.
Geomorphological maps (1:10,000 scale) of each field site will be produced. Different parts of river basins will be surveyed periodically to monitor change. Geomorphological investigations will establish erosion histories during at least the past 10,000 years. We shall assess the impoverishment of soils as a consequence of erosion. Downstream from mining areas heavy metal (e.g. lead) contamination in soils and sediments will be assessed. Levels of toxic metal pollution in irrigation and drinking water supplies will also be measured. The ways in which vegetation is changing will be studied and related to soils and erosion, as well as to present and past human use.
The research will cover populations and environments at a household, community and regional level. The livelihood differences associated with resource accessibility will be investigated, using oral and historical records. This will create a human as well as environmental history. Organisations at a community and regional level that influence change will be identified. Histories of key organisations and ways of managing stress will be recorded. Of special interest in Bolivia will be how the people have responded to the new policies on Decentralisation and Popular Participation. Many environmental issues (e.g. human responses to past and present droughts) will need to be studied by both natural and social scientists.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


Woodhouse Lane
United Kingdom

Participants (5)

Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru
S/n,avenida Universitaria
32 Lima
Pabellon De Gobierno, Avenida De Los Castros S/n
39005 Santander
Universidad Mayor de San Andrés
Casilla 10077 Correo Central
20 La Paz
Universidad de Buenos Aires
1121 Buenos Aires
Universiteit van Amsterdam
130,Nieuwe Prinsengracht
1018 VZ Amsterdam