One of the main challenges for the coming decades is to strengthen the capacity of indigenous and tribal communities to conserve and sustainably manage intact tropical forest regions. These large and relatively undisturbed natural forests in the tropics offer unique opportunities to mitigate two of the greatest environmental problems that the world faces: climate change and the loss of biodiversity. There is ample evidence demonstrating the global importance of management of indigenous and tribal communities for the conservation of these regions. In spite of that, the rapid expansion of resource extraction, commodity production, mining, and transport and energy infrastructure far into the most remote forest regions of the world, with various consequences for local livelihoods, is challenging the ability of indigenous and tribal communities to effectively conserve these lands. It is therefore highly relevant and urgent to involve these communities in the land use decision making that affects them, as well as to consider the entangled social and ecological transformation processes that they undergo upon the arrival of external pressures. However, tools and approaches that consistently enable their engagement are not yet sufficiently available. Moreover, our scientific understanding of how external pressures affect the spatial and temporal dynamics of ecosystem service use by local communities and how these dynamics affect the conservation of intact forest areas is still limited.
This doctoral thesis has been designed to address this pressing gap in knowledge. First, it aims to assess to what extent external pressures affect the spatial and temporal patterns of ecosystem service provision in remote and data scarce forest regions; and second, it seeks to understand how this knowledge can be used to respond to these pressures and support a process of inclusive policy making that recognizes the needs and priorities of indigenous and tribal communities regarding ecosystem service use. It is composed of three study cases, one in the Colombian Amazon (chapter 2) and two in Suriname (chapters3, 4 and 5).