Challenges to Managing Ecosystems Sustainably for Poverty Alleviation: Securing Well-Being in the Andes/Amazon. Final Report + Annexes.


This report focuses on the Amazon basin and the eastern Andean slopes (herein referred to as the Andes/Amazon ecosystem or region). The Amazon is the largest fresh water system and tropical forest in the world. Large portions of the region are still covered by relatively intact primary forests that provide substantial locally and globally valuable ecosystem services (ES). Rural population densities in the region are among the lowest in the world. As such, the Andes/Amazon is a contrast to other ESPA target areas that are characterized by scarce and degraded resources used by often overwhelming numbers of the poor. Hence, in the Andes/Amazon, ESPA should focus on promoting resource conservation before valuable ES are irreversibly lost due to actions by resource users ranging from poor slash-and-burn farmers to large timber and commodity farming interests. A rationale for this approach is that rebuilding ecosystem services in ecologically degraded areas is generally much more costly than preventing their loss in the first place. As an agricultural colonization frontier, the Amazon has lost some 84 million ha of native forests over the last few decades – a loss accompanied by losses of locally and globally valuable ES.

A “situation analysis” of ES and poverty in the Andes/Amazon was conducted September 2007 - March 2008. Findings are intended to help guide ESPA in terms of research and capacity-building priorities. A macro-scale approach was taken to examine ES, well-being, and management needs. The work was accompanied by an extensive consultation with local, national and regional stakeholders.

The report focuses on key issues: Paramount ES provided by the Andes/Amazon ecosystem to local populations and to the global society, and the main threats and challenges to the provision of these services are identified (Chapter 2). The benefits that local populations derive from using ES are characterized (Chapters 2 and 5). Promising options to manage ES provision in ways that also prevent or help to alleviate poverty are identified and characterized (Chapters 3 and 4). Key results of stakeholder consultations and related priorities for research and capacity building are summarized in Chapter 5. Chapter 6 summarizes the key messages of all chapters and proposes three core areas to be addressed by research and capacity-building in the ESPA program. Prototype research projects and promising impact pathways are proposed.

Supplementary information is provided in 12 Annexes, listed at the end of the main report.


Situation Analysis prepared forthe ESPA Program. Amazon Initiative Consortium, Belém, Brazil. 120 + 109 pp. Main report available in large (15.4 MB) and compressed (5.53 MB) versions.

Published 1 January 2008