Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Indigenous Lands, Protected Areas, and Political Ecology: A GIS-Supported Analysis of Conservation and Land Rights in the Brazilian Amazon Public Deposited

  • The Amazon Basin is viewed as an essential area for global conservation due to its biodiversity and larger impacts on climate and carbon cycling. Inidgenous Peoples in the Amazon represent a significant population, and have a relatively large amount of officially tenured land. These lands are often cited to be relatively ecologically healthy, drawing comparisons to governmental Protected Areas (PAs). In this project, I compared the effectiveness of National PAs, State PAs, and Indigenous Lands in preventing deforestation and mining on their lands using GIS analytics. Indigenous Lands had a difference of 8.7% between mean deforestation levels in areas inside of and outside of them. This difference in means for National PAs was found to be 7.3%, and 5.7% for State PAs. Indigenous Lands had 192,226 square kilometers of mined area within their boundaries, representing 16.18% of Indigenous Lands. A very small amount of this mining was found to be illegal, only  National PAs displayed overlap with 92,226 square kilometers of mining operations, only 177.42 square kilometers, or .014% of Indigenous Lands. National PAs were found to overlap with 106,014 square kilometers of mining, around 15.27% of their land area. However, they also hosted 3,726 km2 of illegal mining operations, representing .055% of total lands in National PAs. State PAs had 96,837 km2 of mining, taking up 16.27% of their lands, but zero illegal mining, at least at the resolution of study. Indigenous Lands were therefore found to be relatively effective conservation units in the Amazon. The existence of these lands as sanctuaries from degradation is thanks to a combination of traditional land practices intertwined with Traditional Ecological Knowledge and deliberate social movements that have advocated for these lands over the past 50 years.

Date Awarded
  • 2022-10-19
Academic Affiliation
Committee Member
Granting Institution
Last Modified
  • 2022-11-08
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