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Can the concept of ecosystem services facilitate agroecological transition in the Brazilian Amazon? Results from a mixed methods approach in Irituia and Paragominas, Pará state

Abstract : The proposal of a model of development that reconciles environmental conservation, especially of forest resources, and socioeconomic development is still a challenge to be achieved worldwide, especially in the Amazon region. Due to its amplitude, the Brazilian portion of the Amazon is a matter of great concern nationally and internationally. Agriculture stands out in the Brazilian Amazon for its socioeconomic importance and its tremendous potential to alter ecosystems and the provision of ecosystem services (ES). Among the different forms of agriculture (i.e. large and small farmers), family farms are key players for promoting rural sustainable development. Despite its importance, local actors supporting family farms face numerous challenges to promote agroecological transition of these farms. The general question that we want to contribute to with this thesis is: How can the conceptual framework of ES serve as a cognitive and operational basis to support the agroecological transition? We carried out this research in two contrasting municipalities in the eastern part of the Brazilian Amazon, Irituia and Paragominas. The farming sector of the first study site is dominated by family farming, which is often biodiversified. Contrastingly, large-scale industrial agriculture predominates in the second study site, although it coexists with family farming. We adopted a multi-actor perspective, with the participation of a heterogeneous set of local actors (e.g. policy makers, researchers, rural extension agents, farmers) related to rural issues. We implemented a “mixed methods approach” combining well-tested qualitative methodologies, such as semi-directive interviews and participant observation, with semi-quantitative methodologies such as questionnaires and a role-playing game. We first aimed to understand the perception of different local actors about ES and their co-production process. We observed that, in general, a diversity of ES is perceived by local actors. The perception of ES and the different possible ways to co-produce these ES differ significantly among actors. The type of activity performed by the stakeholders and their municipality are the main factors influencing their perception of ES co-production. The type of knowledge (more scientific or empirical) was also relevant to distinguish between the ways to perceive ES. We also sought to understand the importance of these perceptions in the decision-making process on land use. We investigated some contextual factors that influence this decision making process, focusing on factors external (notably institutional markets) and internal (e.g. labor, costs, cognitive aspects) to the agroecosystem. We realized that these markets are important for valuing agrobiodiversity, but this will depend on how they are managed at a municipal level and on the local institutional landscape. Accordingly, the agroecosystem may evolve towards agroecological or non-agroecological standards. Internal factors in the farm, such as labor, money, values also influence this decision making process. Finally, we sought to understand how the knowledge generated previously could contribute to operationalize the agroecological transition in our two study sites. Knowledge about ES issues generated in our research site contributed to disclose the expectations and factors that drive the actions of stakeholders regarding land use management. This knowledge was obtained through and was used to feed methodological tools to support agroecological transition. Finally, we highlight that the conceptual framework of ES co-production not only enables exploring elements correlated to agroecosystem management, it also serves as a viable tool to stimulate the communication of different actors on the subject. A better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the co-production of ES and the sharing of different knowledge and perceptions can support more collective awareness toward agroecological transition.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, May 11, 2021 - 8:50:12 AM
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  • HAL Id : tel-03223473, version 1

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Antônio Gabriel Lima Resque. Can the concept of ecosystem services facilitate agroecological transition in the Brazilian Amazon? Results from a mixed methods approach in Irituia and Paragominas, Pará state. Agriculture, economy and politics. Institut agronomique, vétérinaire et forestier de France, 2020. English. ⟨NNT : 2020IAVF0026⟩. ⟨tel-03223473⟩

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