Introduction Goal of Research: Understand the patterns and processes of environmental change in the Copan Valley over the last 50 years. Patterns: the actual, empirical changes in environment that have occurred Processes: the factors responsible for these changes
Assumptions Agriculture is the activity most responsible for environmental change in the Valley because:Agriculture is the activity most responsible for environmental change in the Valley because: Agriculture directly affects environment through deforestation, species replacement, use of inputs, etc.Agriculture directly affects environment through deforestation, species replacement, use of inputs, etc. Agriculture is primary economic activity in ValleyAgriculture is primary economic activity in Valley
Agriculture, Environment, Society Agricultural decision making (which crops to grow, where and how) is determined by a wide variety of cultural factors (social, economic, political)Agricultural decision making (which crops to grow, where and how) is determined by a wide variety of cultural factors (social, economic, political) Agricultural land use changes in response to these factorsAgricultural land use changes in response to these factors Varying agricultural practices have differing environmental effectsVarying agricultural practices have differing environmental effects
Agriculture, Environment and Society (continued) Understanding environmental change requires understanding agricultureUnderstanding environmental change requires understanding agriculture Understanding agriculture requires understanding cultural contextUnderstanding agriculture requires understanding cultural context Understanding cultural context requires anthropological fieldworkUnderstanding cultural context requires anthropological fieldwork
Overview of Agriculture in the Copan Valley Tobacco: boom and bust on the Valley floorTobacco: boom and bust on the Valley floor Maize: Subsistence crop par excellenceMaize: Subsistence crop par excellence Coffee: boom and bust in the hillsCoffee: boom and bust in the hills Cattle: standby of the rich, hope for the poor?Cattle: standby of the rich, hope for the poor?
Overview of Valley Ecology Tropical wet/dry Valley long-cleared for agriculture Foothills mosaic of agriculture, pastures, secondary forest Hillsides pines, oaks, ag, pastures, fallow
Valley bottom: prime lands Flat, alluvial lands Easily irrigated Historically used for cash crops, especially tobacco Maize in off-season
Tobacco: boom and bust Tobacco: “Patrimony” of Copan Rise and Fall of Virginia/flue-cured Contract farming Current cultivation...
Indigenous People: from peon to... New landholding class?
Chorti Maya,Hombres de Maiz Original Copanecos Dispossessed agricultural labor Cultural revitalization Ethno-political movement Land recovery!
Chorti: From Land Recovery to Land Management Over 5,000 hectares of land recovered Major questions of land management Goals: economically viable, socially equitable, sustainable land uses
Participatory Mapping and Planning Map lands, inventory resources Assist community in setting priorities Assist community in implementing management plan
Coffee: cash crop dynamics Second most valuable commodity traded internationally Honduras, historically retarded, recent growth (since 1980s) Current (2001) prices lowest in history
Agroecology of Coffee Grown on hillsides (>800 mts) Shade versus sun grown Varying scales Conventional vs organic
Environmental change: what are we trying to explain? How do we measure it? Deforestation? Habitat loss? Flora? Fauna? Vegetation cover: an operational measure Aerial photographs: 1955, 1979, 1999 GIS
Environmental change in Copan: a work in progress Vegetation cover mapped from 1955, 1979 … digitized … analysis underwayVegetation cover mapped from 1955, 1979 … digitized … analysis underway Agriculture is dynamic, landscape is changingAgriculture is dynamic, landscape is changing Understanding social context is key to understanding environmental changeUnderstanding social context is key to understanding environmental change