Values, Knowledge, and Rights Shaping Land Use in the Peruvian Amazon: The Shimaa and Diamante Case Studies

Mariaelena Huambachano, Lauren Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In the midst of climate change, population growth, and global food crisis scenarios, efforts to succeed in Sustainable Land Management (SLM) implementation are under enormous pressure. To contextualize Indigenous experiences on nature valuation in light of sustainable development efforts, we explored how the traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of two Indigenous communities interacted with major land policies with sustainability implications through an ethnographic and community-based participatory research approach. Data collection tools included talking circles, storytelling, unstructured interviews, and participant observation with Indigenous community members of Shimaa and Diamante to understand how two major land management policies intersect in SLM, Indigenous values, TEK, and rights in the Peruvian Amazon. In complementation with secondary literature assessing the focal policies, the empirical data analysis, through a lens of TEK, provides a deeper examination of Indigenous peoples’ ways of knowing. Research findings show that TEK of Indigenous peoples can support values of nature and shape the design and implementation of SLM policies by incorporating Indigenous peoples’ holistic values of nature (e.g., relational and intrinsic values) and methods for sustainable and equitable land management, with improved outcomes for communities. However, the TEK of Indigenous peoples, values of nature, and rights can be at odds with the Eurocentric-oriented SLM in terms of values placed on nature, and results in a disconnection between international and national policy goals with realities at the local levels. This study concludes that to fully realize the objectives of SLM, it is imperative for decision makers to recognize the TEK of Indigenous peoples rooted in a holistic understanding of the multiple values attributed to nature, which resonates with the notion of a plural approach to valuing nature. Further, methods should include land management practices that are beneficial for such communities and not strictly for the production of goods for societal consumption, however long it may be sustained into the future. Such a management scheme would value ecologic stability, community resilience, and a wide range of human-nature values while still recognizing development needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCase Studies in the Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 13 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Amazon
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • Peru
  • nature
  • plural valuation
  • sustainable land management (SLM)
  • traditional ecological knowledge (TEK)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science


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