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Pichón, Francisco J. (1997). Settler Households and Land-Use Patterns in the Amazon Frontier: Farm-Level Evidence from Ecuador. World Development, 25(1), 67-91.


This article presents a detailed profile of colonists households that have settled in the Amazon region of Ecuador. It describes their socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, the natural resource base they control on their farms, and the land-use patterns that are emerging in this part of the Amazon frontier. The existence of a generalized pattern of forest clearing over time constrained by a “straitjacket” of natural resources (or the so-called peasant pioneer cycle) is challenged and attention is given to understanding the role of institutional and household-level factors in influencing the observed variation in land-use and forest-clearing strategies. The survey data which form the basis for the analysis were collected by the author in 1990 from a probability sample of 450 colonist households in the northeastern frontier region of the Ecuadorian Amazon. The results suggest that although the natural resource base can act as a serious constraint on land-use options available to colonists, farmers inherit different production potentials in their land. The range of land-use options open to each is narrowed or widened depending on the household's demographic and socioeconomic circumstances as well as the local and national policy and institutional context. The results given here are exploratory and intended to stimulate further discussion.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

World Development


Pichón, Francisco J.