Home Institution

University of California, Los Angeles

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Program Name

Brazil: Amazon Resource Management and Human Ecology


Agriculturalists in Brasil’s Zona Bragantina are balancing short term social and economic goals with the long term productivity of their agroecosystems. While these goals often times are seen as conflicting, the implementation of agroforestry systems through EMBRAPA’s Projeto Tipitamba has provided an opportunity for farmers in the region to intercrop quick growing, marketable, non-timber forest products with highly valued lumber species all on the same area of land. As Projeto Tipitamba also provides the associated farmers with access to a bush-chopper, it also allows for farmers to stop swidden, slash-and-burn, agriculture and convert to chop-and-mulch land preparation. As a result, the agroforestry systems (SAFs) in the Projeto Tipitamba are a mixture of areas that have been burned or treated with mulching—creating differences in tree growth within and between areas. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the role of agroforestry design—tree spacing, arrangement, and species choice—and land-use history on tree growth in three different agroforestry systems, two of which were burned and one which was mulched. Underlying this study was the creation of a geospatial information system(GIS) that was used to not only catalog the design of the SAF, but also to spatially analyze relationships between tree growth and proximity to tree species and individuals within each area. Samples of tree diameter and height for paricá, mogno, teca, and açai, were collected from each agriculturalist’s agroforestry system and input into the GIS. The data revealed that there are relationships between tree growth, tree spacing, and species distribution within SAFs. The data also revealed that for certain species, these tree growth relationships were correlated to differences in land preparation methods prior to planting the SAF. While agroforestry design is changing tree growth within SAFs, ultimately, this study shows that despite the land-use history, agroforestry systems have the ability to satisfy short- and long-term needs for resource poor farmers who wish to invest in long-term, sustainable land-use. As species interactions within agroecosystems are highly complex, this study simply seeks to point out potential relationships between tree growth patterns and agroforestry design.


Environmental Health and Protection | Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Sustainability