Changes in Forest Use Value through Ecological Succession and Their Implications for Land Management in the Peruvian Amazon
Abstract: Research on local use values of forests across an ecological succession informs land-use decisions and conservation planning. I evaluated use values of three age classes of secondary forest: fallow fields (<5 years old, $8.20/ha/year), young secondary forest (5–20 years old, $20.60/ha/year), and old secondary forest (>20 years old, $6.80/ha/year). I quantified daily forest product use and calculated use values in dollars per hectare per year for three communities in the northern Peruvian Amazon. I made three comparisons between forest types: number of useful species, value based on different use categories, and overall use values. Old secondary forest had the greatest number of total species present and species collected. Wood, food, and medicine were the three most valuable use categories. The value different families extracted from local forests varied enormously, but median forest values were lower for all forest types than potential gains from agricultural land use (e.g., coffee $167/ha/year). Values of different-aged stands on privately owned lands in two communities did not differ significantly, whereas in the third community, young secondary forest had a significantly greater value than other forest types. Old secondary forests were the most valuable source of wood products, and wood was the only use category in which there was any difference in the value of products extracted from different-aged forest stands. The value of all three forest types on open-access (nonprivate) lands was minimal (mean in each forest type, $0/ha/year). Local people can utilize the valuation results to develop land-use strategies that balance forest product use, agricultural productivity, and biodiversity conservation.