Integral Projection Models: a road map for sustainable ayahuasca production

May 23, 2022
12:10 pm

Throughout human evolution, tropical ecosystems have played essential cultural, social and economic roles in the livelihoods of local and indigenous communities worldwide. Thus, the intrinsic relationship these societies have developed with the natural world, is often reflected in their material and non-material elements of culture, where many culturally important plants are often primary resources used for shelter, food, medicine, trade and catalysts for artistic expression and divination while playing essential roles in defining their cultural identity. As such, local and indigenous peoples represent essential stakeholders for tropical forest management and livelihood subsistence strategies. The Amazonian lowlands, the largest tropical ecosystem and nature’s richest repository for medicinal plants and the world’s biological and chemical diversity, is facing unprecedented challenges including cultural (e.g. globalization and the erosion of knowledge, cultural assimilation, language loss) and natural (e.g. climate change, deforestation, and habitat loss) factors which threaten intrinsically connected social and ecological systems and have significantly contributed to a decline in both biological and cultural diversity of the planet. As such, many culturally important plants have become endangered and the essential knowledge about their ancestral use and management has become eroded or lost.

While considerable efforts have been made in the last several decades in the recognition of Indigenous local knowledge (ILK) in international policy making to strengthen environmental governance including the Convention on Biological Diversity and Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, limited efforts have been made particularly in the Amazon Basin to develop mechanisms for operationalizing the integration of ILK and science in sustainability decision-making. Here we explore the use of Integral Projection Modeling (IPM) combined with local and indigenous knowledge to inform biocultural conservation efforts and the development of a sustainable infrastructure surrounding ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi Spruce ex. Griseb).