The Peruvian Amazon Rural Livelihoods and Poverty (PARLAP) Project: A large-scale study among rain forest communities in western Amazonia

November 24, 2016

Oliver Coomes
Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal

Large scale household surveys of rain forest livelihoods in remote, data-poor regions open up exciting new possibilities for understanding the role of natural resources in the well-being of forest peoples. In this lecture I describe the Peruvian Amazon Rural Livelihoods and Poverty (PARLAP) Project which is currently underway in four major river sub-basins in eastern Peru. Specifically I will address the question, how do environmental and economic factors influence economic orientation at the community level? Recognizing that standard approaches that attempt to explain livelihood choice by current conditions are problematic because of potential endogeneity, we propose an analytical framework to address this issue by examining how historical (initial) conditions determine current conditions and thus current economic orientation. Using this framework and drawing on economic and resource availability data from 919 communities, our study yields a rich array of results that point to the importance of initial environmental endowments and market access in shaping economic orientation, interacting in different ways depending on the natural resource.


Oliver T. Coomes is Professor of Geography at McGill University. He works on issues related to environment and development in neotropical forests and forest communities of Latin America, including peasant livelihoods, forest resource use, spatial poverty traps, land cover change, adaptation to environmental change, and agrobiodiversity. He served as the Editor-in-Chief of World Development from 2003-2012.

photo of Oliver Coomes