The Agroforestry Antidote: A remedy for South Ecuador's High Rates of Deforestation




Graeme, Michael

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Land extensification is a land-use pattern that involves the clearing of forests for short- lived, unsustainable pastoral and agricultural operations. This pattern of razing forested landscapes, cultivating them briefly until soils become depleted, and then repeating the process in a new area, is common in Ecuador, although it has not always been so.For millennia, long before the arrival of Columbus to the Americas, the forests of Ecuador were cultivated using agroforestry systems as responses to the complex problems faced by the first peoples of these landscapes. Recently Ecuador’s forests have been subject to new forms of management, resulting in the highest rates of deforestation in all of South America with South Ecuador experiencing a startling 46% loss of forest cover between 1976 and 2008. Agroforestry practices are based in using the interrelationships of trees, animals and crops to provide food security and economic wellbeing, while at the same time conserving ecosystem integrity. The underlying factors allowing land extensification to continue in Ecuador will be explored, as well as some intervention points for implementing agroforestry as a sustainable alternative. My research, complemented by first hand observations carried out in November 2016, will examine how moving away from extensification and into agroforestry-based land-use patterns can simultaneously supplant the problem of deforestation, encourage cultural restoration, provide stimulus for decolonization, and help realize food security in South Ecuador.



Agroforestry, Ecuador, Deforestation, Eco-cultural, Regeneration,