The Peruvian Amazon region has been affected by many of the same changes seen in other developing country areas of the world. Globalization of the world economy has changed the outlook for resource use. Demand for land has increased in a few areas, particularly the southern Amazon in Brazil and Santa Cruz state in Bolivia. Increasing global demands for soy beans, sugar cane and ethanol, African palm oil, beef, and other highdemand, globally traded commodities have been drivers of land and resources use change. Many areas of the Peruvian Amazon have been opened up to development, and have been subject to in-migration in jungle.
Have these changes led to a new type of rural development, one driven by new forces reaching into previously isolated rural areas? Has the Amazon experienced desakotastyle rural development as seen in parts of Asia – that is, blurred distinctions between rural and urban, mixed economies and land use, space-time reduction in interactions with other places? How has recent rural development affected ecosystem services and poverty alleviation in jungle peruvian?
The central Peruvian Amazon in the area surrounding the city of Pucallpa provides a test case for answering these questions. The region has been a hotspot of land use change and population growth since the middle of the last century. A major road corridor linking the river port city of Pucallpa with the mega-city, Lima, on the Pacific coast is similar to the Brazilian Amazon in which massive road construction linked the region to the populated center-south of Brazil.
Development in the Central Peruvian Amazon The population of the central Peruvian Amazon has increased from less than 50,000 persons before 1950 to more than 350,000 today. The urban population in the region was near zero in 1940, then with a rural population of 25,000 people. Around 1980 the number of people living in urban areas surpassed the rural population. Today, 72% of the population (274,000 persons) lives in urban areas and 28% live in rural areas (86,000). Most of the urban dwellers live in Pucallpa, the capital of the Department (State) of Ucayali, a transshipment point for goods switching from overland to river travel and vice versa; and a service center for economic activity in the surrounding hinterland in peruvian amazon.
The construction of the road between Lima and Pucallpa motivated initial development of the region between 1945 and 1970 in jungle trips. The decade of the 1970s saw substantial migration and population growth into the area. During the 1980s government policy sustained this growth. The region was viewed as a potential “breadbasket” for Peruvian development. This decade also saw the rise of coca cultivation in the selva alta area bordering the Andes mountains in peruvian amazon. The 1990s were marked by terrorism (by the leftist guerrilla group, the Sendero Luminoso) and continued growth of coca cultivation into the mid-1990s. This decade was also distinguished by the Fujimora administration’s reduction of agricultural support and credit to the region. Over the last several years, growth has continued, mostly without government policy support for jungle trips.