Consequences of traditional agricultural intensification for secondary forest resilience and ecosystem services in the Central Amazonia

Finding equilibrium between agricultural productivity, land use intensification and provision of ecosystem services is a large challenge for tropical agriculture and conservation.

Traditional Amazonian agriculture is supported by a swidden-fallow system, in which fallows are essential components providing provisioning services for local livelihood, supporting services for biodiversity conservation, and regulatory services for maintaining the systems’ agricultural productivity. Currently this system is going through agricultural intensification. Slashing younger fallows, increasing cropping periods, and using the same fields for several swidden-fallow cycles can deplete soil fertility, increase weed and pathogen pressure, reduce forest resilience and finally lead to declines in the sustainability of the system. Therefore, by integrating information on land use history and land cover change this study aims to elucidate how agricultural intensification of traditional swidden-fallow system affects (1) the landscape mosaic composition, (2) soil chemical and physical quality, (3) resilience of the secondary forests and (4) ecosystem services provided by fallows. The results of this research will support the design of more efficient and sustainable land-use systems in the Amazon.

Research is been done in the Brazilian Amazon, in the municipality of Tefé, which is located at the meadlow Solimões River. Tefé region is the most important manioc flour productor of the Amazonas State and is going through a strong intensification of its traditional agriculture as a result of market orientation. Field work will be done during the years 2012 and 2013.