The impact of state and federal government development policy on the contribution of nature to the wellbeing of Indigenous people in the Brazilian Ama

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Geography


Whilst my interests span broadly across the political ecology
of Latin America, the political changes taking place in Brazil
open up many research opportunities. In short, this project
will evaluate the impacts of state and federal government,
economic and agricultural developments, and policy reform
on ecosystem services in Indigenous territories. I propose a
PhD project that will, (i) build on IPBES' conceptual framework
to conduct a socially-orientated environmental valuation of
one or more of Brazil's Amazonian Indigenous territories; (ii)
assess the impact or potential impact of state and federal
government, policy reform, and development projects on
nature's contribution to Indigenous peoples.
So, I pose the following research aims:
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1. To critically assess how the ways that Indigenous peoples
value nature is communicated to (and acted on by) decisionmakers.
2. Using participatory methods, evaluate how ecosystem
services in Indigenous territories have been impacted by
State and federal Government and private-led developments
and policy reforms.
3. Assess the effects ecosystem services impacts have had
on Indigenous livelihoods.
Context and Justification:
The Brazilian Amazon is one of the most biodiverse places in
the world, and it sustains the livelihoods of hundreds of
Indigenous tribes. Indigenous communities depend upon the
forest for food, fuelwood, curating medicines, taking part in
economic activities, and providing materials to make objects
for use in everyday life (Posey 1985). With the promise from
the new Brazilian Government that protected areas
(including Indigenous territories) in the Amazon will be
opened up to economic development and agricultural
expansion (Escobar 2018), we can anticipate that many
rural, indigenous, and other smallholder communities will be
severely impacted. Whilst I am aware that, at present, the
impacts arising from the change of Brazilian Government
remain for the most part unclear, huge social and ecological
changes are anticipated. For instance, the responsibility of
the management of Indigenous territories has already been
removed from FUNAI (Brazil's National Indian Foundation),
and instead given to the Ministry of Agriculture; who have
long supported agricultural expansion and large-scale
development projects (Fearnside 2015; Schmink et al. 2017).
The new Brazilian Government has emphasised economic
and large-scale developments in the Amazon by promoting
agribusiness, large infrastructure, and mining, for example.
This development agenda, however, does not account for
Indigenous inhabitants and their environments in that their
views are not accounted for and their legal rights are
continually ignored. Government and privately-funded largescale development projects have long impacted Indigenous
areas, particularly in forests, putting historic cultures and
biodiversity at risk (Ramirez-Gomez et al. 2016).
This project will focus on ecosystem services in IndiIndigenous
territories. Ecosystem services in this study, however, will be
referred to as nature's contributions to people (NCP) to
highlight the shift away from the idea of services, to
contribution (Diaz et al 2015, 2018). NCP can contribute to
human production and consumption, and also provide
communities with health, cultural, and spiritual benefits.
Research in this area has often been conducted in protected,
forested, and rural areas. Ramirez-Gomez et al. (2016), for
instance, argue for the integration of research on NCP into
conservation efforts and planning.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000703/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
2309728 Studentship ES/P000703/1 30/09/2019 31/10/2022 Jordan Wheeler