Trees and trade-offs : perceptions of eucalyptus and native trees in Ecuadorian highland communities

Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Mahila Khan


In the northern Ecuadorian Andes, the land area covered in native forests has diminished in recent decades while that covered in forest plantations - planted primarily with Eucalyptus species - has increased rapidly. Between October 2003 and March 2004, the author conducted forty semi-structured interviews with inhabitants of two indigenous Quichua communities near Cotacachi, Ecuador, seeking perceptions of eucalyptus and native trees. These tree types are thought to have distinct ecological and economic costs and benefits and are thus valued for different reasons in the study communities. While many community members recognize the potential ecological dangers of monocultures of Eucalyptus species, they appreciate the trees' accessibility, utility, and monetary value. Native trees, by contrast, are considered to be very important ecologically and to provide economic benefits distinct from those of plantation species, but are also seen as less accessible due to diminished quantities.

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