How to sow peace? : a value chain approach for environmental peacebuilding in Sierra de la Macarena National Park, Colombia

University essay from Lunds universitet/LUCSUS

Abstract: Ecological rehabilitation projects - as a form of reforestation interventions - are increasing worldwide and present an opportunity for climate change mitigation and supporting local livelihoods. Implemented in post-conflict situations, they are increasingly promoted as solutions for peace. Aiming at understanding their contributions to sustainability and peacebuilding, I examine proposed rehabilitation projects in Sierra de la Macarena National Park in the northern area of the Colombian Amazon by using the value-chain approach of environmental peacebuilding. By combining an analysis of social-environmental tensions around conflicts in the national park and a review of lessons learned from companies working with tree products in Colombia, I answer how value chain considerations can improve rehabilitation projects to address social-ecological tensions. Then, drawing on environmental peacebuilding literature, I discuss the limitations and possibilities of value chain initiatives to address peacebuilding and forest conservation from a short and long-term sustainability perspective. My findings show that close, long-term and interdependent relationships and a risk-sharing between farmers and partners are essential in creating value chains with tree products. Moreover, it is necessary to find trade-offs between the environmental and economic benefits of specific tree products within the rehabilitation interventions. These projects can contribute to peacebuilding by creating trust and cooperation with different parties and by providing alternative sources of income. However, solutions around land use and land rights must be created to overcome overall tensions within the protected area. Conservation agreements between the National Parks Agency and the farmers can be a first step in providing securities around future land rights and therefore present an incentive for sustainable land use. My thesis identifies that institutional requirements and lacking governmental support for tree product businesses hinder the rehabilitation projects. Thus, political factors need to be simultaneously addressed to create holistic and sustainable solutions for nature and people.

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