Zipfel, A.G. (2011): Biodiversity as a resource: Plant use and land use among the Shuar, Saraguros, and Mestizos in tropical rainforest areas of southern Ecuador Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, phd thesis
The montane and premontane rainforests of southern Ecuador constitute a hotspot of biodiversity (cf. Brehm et al. 2008; Barthlott et al. 2007, Neill 2007). The use of plant resources from these forest areas is a fundamental part of the portfolio of livelihood activities of the local population. Increasing human activity however results in biodiversity loss. The extension of pastures and fields, logging, mining and the construction of roads represent the main threats to biodiversity in southern Ecuador. In order to develop conservation strategies it is of utmost importance to understand the plant and forest-use patterns of the inhabitants of this region. In this way, it will be possible to develop alternatives that consider local claims while conserving biodiversity (cf. Pohle et al. 2010). In this study ethnoecological and agrogeographical research methods have been used to make a qualitative analysis of the ethnospecific plant knowledge and plant use of the three main ethnic groups of southern Ecuador, namely the Shuar, the Saraguros and the Mestizos. This is followed by a discussion of the feasibility in the study sites of four so-called instruments for biodiversity conservation: agroforestry, ecotourism, payments for environmental services, and bioprospecting.