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Romulo, Chelsie [1], Endress, Bryan [2], Kennedy, Christopher [1], Dallmeier, Francisco [3], Gilmore, Michael  [4].

Mauritia flexuosa fruit trade in Loreto, Peru: market drivers for extraction and potential for conservation interventions.

This research describes the regional market chain of Mauritia flexuosa fruit in the northeastern Peruvian Amazon within the context of identifying market drivers and potential for conservation interventions. M. flexuosa is a long-lived dioecious palm that grows to 30 meters in height and forms expansive palm swamps that cover 10% of the Peruvian Amazon.  This palm provides critical habitat and food for many wildlife species. The fruit harvest has widespread ecological concerns as the most common method is to cut down female trees, which has resulted in many male dominated stands. Rural communities throughout the Peruvian Amazon harvest M. flexuosa fruit to be sold in the largest city in the region, Iquitos. This species is the target of conservation and management initiatives and understanding the complex interactions of the market chain are important for designing effective and sustainable interventions. Through over 1,000 semi-structured interviews with individuals representing every aspect of the market chain, extraction motivation and distribution patterns are described. We estimate that over 90% of the aguaje sold in Iquitos is harvested by cutting instead of more sustainable methods such as climbing. We identify intermediary wholesalers as major market forces for harvest who retain power by controlling market access and transportation of goods. Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) such as M. fleuxosa fruit are often promoted as a means for sustainably providing income to rural families in developing nations yet our findings question this assertion. In addition to the obvious long-term sustainability concerns surrounding the destructive harvest, our findings also suggest that for this species most revenue goes to a small group of intermediary sellers controlling the bulk of market flow. This study highlights the need to address market access, flow, and fluctuations as well as harvest method as part of a holistic conservation and management strategy for the species.


1 - George Mason University, Environmental Science and Policy, 4400 University Dr, Fairfax, VA, 22033, USA
2 - Eastern Oregon University, Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences, Eastern Oregon Agriculture and Natural Resource Program, 205 Badgley Hall One University Blvd., La Grande, OR, 97850, USA
3 - Smithsonian National Zoologial Park, Center for Conservation and Sustainability, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, 1500 Remount Road, Front Royal, VA, 22630, USA
4 - George Mason University, New Century College, 4400 University Dr, Fairfax, VA, 22033, USA

Keywords:
Mauritia flexuosa
aguaje
conservation
Peruvian Amazon.

Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Number:
Abstract ID:26
Candidate for Awards:None