Individuals living in rural communities in tropical forests rely heavily on subsistence extraction of resources, and usually have strong ties to their local environment. In the Peruvian Amazon, patterns of resource extraction are of particular interest because the potential for human population growth is high, and international efforts to conserve biodiversity in this region are widespread. A survey was conducted to examine how residents of rural communities surrounding Iquitos, Peru use their local environment to procure household items (four food types, building materials, and firewood) with respect to age, gender, and level of education. Local perceptions of the environment and environmental resources were also documented. A second independent survey examined subsistence fishing practices in this region, with particular focus given to perceptions of fishery abundance and future stability. A follow-up market survey was subsequently undertaken in Iquitos to determine how fishing practices may influence the sustainability of the fishery. Results reveal that rural communities in the Iquitos region rely heavily on the local environment for their household needs, and the local environment is highly valued by residents of rural communities. Both governmental and self-regulation of natural resource use are generally viewed favorably. Although residents have mixed perceptions regarding what constitutes over-use of resources, rural community members strongly desire to implement sustainable practices to ensure that natural products will continue to be available in the future. Additionally, these results suggest that the fishery surrounding Iquitos may be experiencing overharvesting pressures that are reducing numbers and size cohorts of desirable fish species.
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