Valuing Intact Tropical Peatlands

University of St Andrews School of Geography and Sustainable Development

  • Dr Katy Roucoux, Principal Investigator 
  • Prof Nina Laurie, Co-Investigator 
  • Dr Althea Davies, Co-Investigator 
  • Dr Euridice Honorio Coronado, Co-Investigator 
  • Dr Luis Andueza, Postdoctoral Research Fellow 
  • Dr Lydia Cole, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

External project team members:

  • Prof Ed Mitchard, Co-Investigator 
  • Dr Charlotte Wheeler , Postdoctoral Research Fellow (University of Edinburgh) 
  • Manolo Martín Brañas, Social Scientist (IIAP (Research Institute of the Peruvian Amazon) 
  • Cecilia del Carmen Nuñez Perez, Social Scientist, IIAP (Research Institute of the Peruvian Amazon)

How do local people use and value the hydrologically intact peatlands and wetland ecosystems of the Peruvian Amazon? An interdisciplinary team are researching how indigenous communities, living in the flooded forests of the western Amazon, interact with these challenging, yet globally important ecosystems. Ecological surveys measuring the diversity of ecosystems and natural resources were coupled with participatory mapping and in-depth interviews, to explore the knowledge and relationships local communities have with these Amazonian peatlands. The project aims to: (i) co-produce knowledge on the local importance of the peatlands with the resident communities; (ii) share this knowledge with those governing the use and management of these landscapes; and (iii) develop an interdisciplinary approach and partnership that can continue to perform research into these pivotal ecosystems and their sustainable use.

In a remote river basin of the Peruvian Amazon, local communities have developed ways to live in and from the flooded forests and peatlands surrounding them. An interdisciplinary team of researchers is working with these communities to co-produce knowledge on the nature of their social-ecological relationships with these carbon-packed environments, to understand how sustainable their use is and on how climate change may impact them in the future. At the end of a long day of fieldwork in the humid forests surrounding an indigenous Urarina community, after the generator has been switched off, Lydia Cole finishes data entry. She is surrounded by the hammocks and tents, and drying clothes of her colleagues, in the building kindly lent to them by a community member for their week-long stay.

Photography: Dado Galdieri