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Blue in the jungle [English]


Empowerment, Biodiversity, Carbon and Livelihoods

Members of our laboratory have been working with Indigenous Peoples in Panama since 1993. Our research takes place mostly in the Darien province and in the Alto Bayano watershed, a region of eastern Panama characterized by a complex mosaic of cultures and land uses. Home to the indigenous Emberá and Guna and to latino colonist farmers, the area has undergone dramatic transformations over the past 50 years and is one of Panama’s deforestation hotspot. Agriculture, cattle ranching, exotic tree plantations and agroforestry have come to replace extensive forest cover as common features across the landscape. Yet, extensive forests are still found in indigenous territories.

Our work includes research into forest conservation, alternative livelihoods to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), reforestation, the link between livelihoods and land cover/land use change in the context of social-ecological landscapes, and multicultural land-use planning. The common thread through all of these activities is a reliance on participatory methods, from participatory mapping of land cover to documentary film making, as a means of empowering local people providing them with a clear understanding of the natural assesses that they manage. The general aim of our research is to support people interested in conserving culturally important biological diversity and maintaining pride and tradition while improving their own livelihoods.

Last update: Nov. 28, 2017
Photo credit: Alex Tran