The Political-Ecology of a “Forest Transition”: Eucalyptus forestry in the Southern Peruvian Andes

Jeff Luzar

Abstract


In numerous peasant communities of the Peruvian Andes,
the eucalyptus tree (Eucalyptus globulus Labill.), an introduced
species from Australia, represents a fundamental
component of the rural livelihood system. This study examines
the ways in which a forest transition—the partial
reforestation of this region through eucalyptus plantation
forestry—has, in addition to providing a valuable resource,
transformed peasant economic and land tenure systems
and shaped the position that peasant communities have
assumed in Peruvian political and economic systems in
recent decades. During the agrarian reforms of the late
1960s and early 1970s, the state promoted large-scale
eucalyptus forestry, partially as a means of strengthening
its political presence in the countryside. More recently, in
the wake of structural adjustment, non-governmental actors—
namely NGOs and private business—by engaging
in rural forestry, entered the political and economic vacuum
created by a receding state apparatus. Applying a political
ecological perspective to a case study from southern
Peru, this study looks specifically at the role that this
widespread introduced species has played in shaping land
tenure institutions, market integration, and peasant interactions
with the state, outside NGOs and businesses.

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