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Horizontal and Vertical Archipelagoes of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Andean Realm

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Horizontal and Vertical
Archipelagoes of Agriculture and
Rural Development in the Andean
The tropical Andes offer a unique mosaic of physical and human environments.
Since the pioneering field research of Alexander von Humboldt over years ago,
the Andean realm has been considered as a model for an intricate altitudinal zona-
tion of climate, vegetation and agriculture. In addition to this, latitude, proximity
to the Pacific Ocean or Amazon Basin, topography, hydrology and geomorphology
enrich the variety of landscapes. In terms of agriculture and rural development,
a corollary of other factors shapes the human landscape. Particularly significant
among them are the ethnic affiliation of the population with their cultural heritage,
the colonial and post-colonial imprint, land tenure, accessibility to roads and larger
settlements, agricultural and non-agricultural opportunities, the access to and
acceptance of innovations and modernization, and also the resilient capability of
the rural population to adapt to climate change and to new cultural, social, eco-
nomic, and political conditions. This chapter attempts to explore, in a summarizing
fashion, the agricultural and rural archipelagoes of the tropical Andes in their hori-
zontal and vertical dimensions. In a concluding part, the author critically examines
some rural scenarios and postulates a campesino-oriented development”.
Keywords: tropical Andes, rural and agricultural archipelago, horizontal and vertical
zonation of landscapes, campesino-oriented development
The most profound meaning of the Andes comes not from a physical description,
but from the cultural outcome of  millenia of knowing, using, and transforming
the varied environments of western South America ([]: ).
. Introductory remarks
Tropical mountain environments can be approached in a three-dimensional
perspective taking into consideration the horizontal or lateral as well as the vertical
dimensions of geographical space: Zimmerer [] speaks of “vertical environments”.
In the case of the tropical Andes, the configuration of the natural environments and
of the human landscape is further differentiated by the extent of the Cordilleras
on both sides of the Equator from the Caribbean coast (about °N) to the tropic of
Capricorn (about .°S). Facing the Pacific Ocean with its different ocean currents
on its western side and the vast interior, lowland areas of the Orinoco, Rio Negro
Sustainable Rural Development
and Amazon watersheds to the east furthermore result in a marked landscape
contrast as one crosses the mountain ranges and highland basins from west to east.
As early as , von Humboldt and Bonpland described the vertical arrange-
ment of ecological zones in their famous illustration of climate and vegetation
of the Chimborazo in Ecuador []. Troll [, ] and Lauer [–] described and
compared the altitudinal zonation of climatic factors and vegetation in tropical
mountains in general and also specifically in the Andes. They distinguished the
principal zones of the tierra caliente, the tierra templada, the tierra helada and the
tierra nival or nevada from the base to the top of high tropical Andean mountains.
They further differentiated between the humid, semi-humid, semiarid and arid
Andes and illustrated these zones by their famous three-dimensional altitudinal
and latitudinal models. They also showed that the climatic characteristics of the
tropical Andes have a major impact on land use, settlements and agricultural activi-
ties. Of great significance are in particular critical temperature thresholds, e.g. for
the growth of specific tropical cultigens and of the occurrence of frost. In terms of
humidity levels, the humid and semi-humid Andes are characterized by between
 and  humid months (precipitation higher than potential evaporation), the arid
and semiarid Andes by  to  arid months (evaporation higher than precipitation).
In a generalized model, the author attempted to portray the altitudinal zonation of
ecology, agricultural land use, settlements, and health risks for the humid and the
semiarid and arid Andes (Figure ).
A pioneering contribution to the concept of altitudinal ecological and human
zonation was made by Murra [, ]. He states that life of the rural Andean world
was shaped by the “verticality” of ecological conditions and that families, vil-
lages and ethnic communities have traditionally attempted to control as many
micro-ecological zones as possible (Control Vertical or Mitimagkuna), the so-called
archipiélagos verticales. Drawing on Murras work and based on his own research,
Brush [–] distinguished three major types of control and integration of Andean
ecological zones and resource areas. The compact type” is one in which different
ecological zones occur in close proximity to each other and are easily accessible
to the community. In the case of the “archipelago type, the ecological zones used
by a group of peasants are more distant from each other and are often separated
by unused areas, thus requiring more extended travel times. This may require the
establishment of a series of permanent or semipermanent colonies”, away from
the home community, in these different ecological zones, as well as a system of
exchanges between the home community and the colonies based on reciprocity and
redistribution. In the “extended type”, each peasant group exploits a single or a few
ecological zones, often specializing in certain products, and exchanges goods with
other groups living and exploiting other ecozones ([]: -). In a summarizing
overview, Forman [] has discussed the “verticality concept” with its implications
and applications for the Andes. She comes to the conclusion that the verticality
models still provide useful guidelines for rural development in the Andes.
In a rather provocative paper, Allan [] had rejected theenvironmental deter-
minism” of traditional altitudinal zonation models, arguing that they are “no longer
suitable for characterizing mountain ecosystems now that human activity is directed
to new motorized transportation networks linked to a wider political economy
and no longer dependent on altitude” ([]: Abstract, ). Instead, he proposed
an “accessibility model” of land use in a hypothetical mountain landscape. While
mountain geographers would agree that a simplistic and unrestricted environmental
determinism has to be rejected, many of them (among them []: -), based
on their empirical findings, have taken the position that mountain people for a long
time have adapted to the geofactors of altitude, relief, distance, climate, vegeta-
tion, soil and hazard exposure, while recognizing that new developments, among
Horizontal and Vertical Archipelagoes of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Andean…
them accessibility, transportation and intensified lowland-highland interactions,
have influenced and modified human activities in mountains. In his rural research
in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, the author [] identified a vast array of factors
influencing agricultural activities and rural land use:
• Altitude and relief configuration, erosion and sedimentation.
• Distance, proximity or remoteness to service centres and core areas.
• Climate, vegetation and soils.
• Natural hazards.
Figure 1.
Altitudinal zonation of ecology and agricultural land use in the tropical Andes (Stadel 1989).
Sustainable Rural Development
• Conservation measures.
Access to and distribution of water: precipitation regimes, water rights and irri-
gation schemes.
• Cultural and spiritual traditions and local perceptions and practices.
• Age and nature of settlement process.
• Population parameters: age and gender structures and mobility and migration.
• Land tenure, land ownership, water rights and land reforms.
• Access to acceptance of innovation, modernization and new technologies.
• “Conscientization” levels, education and training.
• Local, regional, national and global market conditions.
• Alternative economic activities and employment opportunities.
• Access to capital and investment opportunities.
• Transportation and communication and social infrastructures.
• Local leadership and community initiatives.
Exogenous impact of business ventures, governmental programmes, non-
governmental intervention and influences ofexpatriates” (e.g. remittances,
. Horizontal and vertical agricultural and rural spaces in the tropical
For a long time, agriculture has been the backbone of the rural economy and
employment and has been the basis for ancient civilizations in the tropical Andes.
Andean agriculture is characterized by a great variety of production systems,
land-use forms, types of cultivated plants and domestic animals and forms of
pastoralism. Due to the constraints of altitude, slope, climate, soil, forest cover in
humid parts and barriers of difficult accessibility, only a limited part of the Andean
realm is suitable for agriculture. The agricultural core areas are situated in the larger
longitudinal and transverse valleys (e.g. the valleys of the Magdalena and Cauca
rivers in Colombia; the Patate-Pastaza rivers in Ecuador; the Marañon, Santa Marta
and Mantaro rivers in Peru; the Rio Grande in Bolivia; the Central Valley in Chile;
as well as the river oases of the semiarid and arid of the Pacific realm in Peru and
northern Chile). Other favored agricultural regions are the highland basins (e.g.
in the Sabana of Bogotá), the cuencas or hoyas in Ecuador and the wide Altiplano in
southern Peru and Bolivia, especially the shores of Lake Titicaca with their favor-
able microclimate. In addition, the inner flanks of the Cordilleras in the climatic
zones of the tierra templada and tierra fría are intensively used agrarian regions. In
contrast to the old settled and agriculturally used Andean realm, newer agrarian
colonization zones and rural pioneer spaces have emerged at the eastern Cordilleran
Horizontal and Vertical Archipelagoes of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Andean…
flanks and valleys in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Nonagriculturally
oriented core areas are the urban–rural continuum regions of the major cities
and metropolises, as well as the larger mining zones and manufacturing districts.
Furthermore, population concentrations have developed along major transporta-
tion corridors and around principal ports and airports (Figure ).
Andean agriculture is characterized by a pronounced altitudinal zonation, a
result of thermic, hygric and edaphic differentiation. Following the classical alti-
tudinal ecological “belts” from the warm lowlands to the cold highest parts of the
ecumene, the tierra caliente, tierra templada, tierra fría and tierra helada, Borsdorf
and Stadel [] distinguish the following major agrarian zones:
. Tropical lowland rain-fed farming (Campo de Lluvia) in the tierra caliente
(from sea level to about m in the humid Andes)
. Tropical lowland irrigation farming (Campo de Riego) in the tierra caliente in
the semiarid and arid realm
. Extratropical agrarian foothill zones (foremost the Chilean longitudinal valley
and the foothill regions in northwestern Argentina)
Figure 2.
Chimborazo region, Ecuador (Photo credit: Stadel).
Sustainable Rural Development
Figure 3.
Study region Chimborazo – Puyo, Ecuador (Stadel 1989).
. Agrarian areas of the tropical Andes in the altitudinal zones of the tierra
templada and tierra fría (about  to m)
. Upper zones of field cultivation and pastoralism in the tierra helada (approxi-
mately  to nearly m)
It is evident that water supply, water rights, water use and the management of
the water resources are crucial for agriculture and rural sustainable livelihoods.
Permanent, periodic or seasonal water scarcity and the high demand and diverse
use of Andean water resources by a variety of decision-makers and often conflicting
interest groups make water a critical ecological, cultural, economic, social and politi-
cal issue and challenge. For instance, the excessive water consumption of the irrigated
plantations of export-oriented river oases of coastal Peru threatens the water supplies
for small-scale farming and rural communities in the upper watersheds. A voracious
consumer of water is the powerful mining sector with its dramatic impact on the
natural environment, the ensuing critical shortage and the contamination of water
in the surrounding rural areas and the landscape degradation. More recently, the
water demands in major tourist destinations (e.g. the Cordillera Blanca region, Cuzco
and the Valle Sagrado in Peru) may conflict with the interests of farmers and rural
residents in these areas. Conflicts may also arise in the use of water between the upper
and lower parts of watersheds, between indígenas and non-native regions, between
latifundistas and minifundistas and between urban and rural areas.
In a detailed study of a landscape profile of the Ecuadorian Sierra, Stadel [, ]
investigated the complex ecological, agricultural and rural mosaic from the upper limit
of agricultural activities and settlement at the foot of Chimborazo (about m)
through the high mountain basin (Cuenca) of the city of Ambato and the Patate and
Pastaza valleys to the foothills of the Eastern Cordillera (about m). Along this
altitudinal profile, the following land-use zones can be identified (Figure ):
. The sparsely settled pasture regions of the cool humid páramo at the upper
limit of sporadic settlement and patchy niche field cultivation  to
m). The mostly indigenous population suffers from climatic stress and
poor access to the market centres of Ambato and Guaranda; however, the
indígenas control a large part of the regional water resources.
Horizontal and Vertical Archipelagoes of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Andean…
. The upper zone of intensive arable farming ( to m). A vast array of
crops is cultivated, mostly in seasonal or annual rotation. In the lower parts,
precipitations tend to be insufficient and unreliable, and irrigation becomes
. The high mountain basin (Cuenca) of Ambato, including the adjoining inner
Cordilleran slopes ( to m), a mixed urban–rural space. Rural popula-
tion clusters are located around the dynamic regional market centre of Ambato
and are specializing in productive fruit and vegetable growing and also rely on
job opportunities in the city. The climate is semiarid, and agriculture depends
on irrigation. In the southeastern part, the small enclave of the Salasaca native
community gives the cultural landscape a distinct identity.
. The agricultural core region along the Patate valley and a major highway cor-
ridor to the Oriente, the gateway to the Amazon lowlands ( to m).
In the deeply entrenched valley floor, a highly productive irrigation-based
hacienda—and minifundio—agriculture contrasts with a mixture of irrigated
and nonirrigated small fields. Here, a mixture of vegetables, cereals and fodder
crops is grown in a variety of traditional rotation cycles on steep slopes. Above
about m, the irrigation-based agriculture gives way to a mostly seasonal
and rain-fed agriculture. The urban centre of Pelileo, located on the major
highway to Ambato and the Oriente, is the principal market centre of the
region and a new centre of textile manufacturing, especially a production of
jeans for national and international markets.
. The temperate humid part of the Pastaza valley ( to m). This section
is located in the ecological zone of the tierra templada and benefits from the
rains which reach this valley from the Amazon lowlands. In the narrow valley
floor and lower slopes, a variety of subtropical and tropical fruits and vegeta-
bles are grown. In the higher reaches, a mixture of different cops of a tempera-
ture, cooler climate. As one proceeds further downstream, the steep slopes are
increasingly covered with a dense humid montane forest. The centre of this
section is Baños, a regional service centre, a popular site for Ecuadorians and
also foreign visitors, as a pilgrimage site and a recreational destination because
of its mild climate and thermal waters.
. The lowest part of the landscape profile, located in the tierra templada and
higher parts of the tierra caliente ( tom). This is a permanently warm
and very humid zone, characterized by recent colonization agriculture, and a
dispersed linear pioneer settlement stretching along the highway. Here, a wide
selection of tropical crops is grown in the valley and on patchy forest clearings
on the mountain slopes. At the exit of the Pastaza from the Cordillera, the city
of Puyo is the booming regional multifunctional centre.
Zimmerer [] has pointed out that “overlapping patchworks of farm special
units are characteristic of the mountain landscapes of Andean regions of Peru
and Bolivia. Patchiness and overlap…are shaped by the broad tolerances of major
crops, high variability/low predictability of habitat factors, multifaceted cropping
rationales of cultivators including their linkages to extraregional influences, and,
to varying extents, the sociospatial coordination of crop choice among farmers”.
Zimmerer arrived at this conclusion from detailed field studies within the two com-
munities of Pampa Churigua (farmland range  to m) in the Department
Sustainable Rural Development
of Cochabamba, Bolivia, and of Mollomarca (farmland range  to m) in
the Cuzco Department of Peru. Although a maize/cereal zone of the lower slopes
can be distinguished from an upper potato/tuber zone), a considerable mixing of
a variety of crops, a patchiness of land parcels and an elevation-related overlap of
crop types can be observed. In another contribution, Zimmerer []) states that
“integrating the conservation of biodiversity by smallholder farmers with agricul-
tural intensification is increasingly recognized as a leading priority of sustainability
and food security amid global environmental and socioeconomic change. This will
contribute to an in situ conservation of agrobiodiversity and enhance the smallhold-
ers’ resilience.
The traditional pattern of agricultural land use has been profoundly altered
in some areas by the locational influences of accessibility to highway arteries and
regional market centres (Figure ). Where topography, soil quality and irrigation
potential exist, a specialized cultivation of vegetables, fruit and flowers serves
the urban market, in some cases even international markets (e.g. the plantation
of cut flowers for global markets in the Sabana de Bogotá) (Figure ). Other
agricultural cores of a specialized, export-oriented agriculture have developed
because of an early valorization of favorable ecological conditions (e.g. the
coffee-growing zones of the tierra templada in Colombia), or they have been the
result of modernization, new technologies and entrepreneurial initiatives (e.g.
the cultivation of special vegetables such as asparagus for world markets in the
river oases of coastal Peru). Other important specialized agricultural zones are
the wine-growing areas of the Central Valley of Chile and of the Cuyo region of
Argentina or the legal or illegal plantation of coca bushes on the humid eastern
side of the Andes in Bolivia, Peru and Colombia. New consumer demands may
also entail a specialization of agricultural strategies. Examples for this are the new
Figure 4.
Ambato market centre and agricultural hinterland, Ecuador (Borsdorf and Stadel 2015).
Horizontal and Vertical Archipelagoes of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Andean…
quinoa monocultures in the Lake Titicaca region or expanding alpaca breeding on
the Bolivian Altiplano. While this specialization may bring enhanced economic
benefits to the region, the potentially negative impact on the ecology, regional
water resources, land tenure, traditional land use practices and potentially higher
farming risks cannot be ignored [].
. Peri-urban clusters
Metropolitan centres and other important regional capital centres and economic
centres have experienced major population growth rates and areal expansions.
This has resulted in a massive planned or uncontrolled urban–rural interface of
a wider surrounding region and to the emergence of major peri-urban clusters
([]: - and -). While this urbanization may bring to the region
new housing, attractive landscape amenity sites for affluent urbanites (so-called
parcelas de agrado and ciudades valladas, Figure ), new employment opportuni-
ties or enhanced infrastructures, the negative impacts of this “urban invasion
often prevail ([]: ). Land speculation and soaring land prices are threatening
the survival of small-scale agriculture and the traditional rural livelihoods by a
consumption of often fertile irrigated agricultural land and by diverting the water
resources from irrigating the fields to a use for urban households and commercial
needs. Driven away by this urbanization process, agricultural smallholders are
faced with the options of incorporating themselves into the urban agglomera-
tion, to intensifying land use on their remaining plots or to seeking alternative
new agricultural areas. Haller [] has found that farmers in the Huancayo basin
have expanded or intensified field cultivation in the higher suni [] altitudinal
belt ( to m), a marginal and poorly accessible agricultural zone with
steep and nonirrigated slopes not suitable for year-round cultivation. Using the
example of the regional city of Huancayo and the lower Shullcas Valley, Haller and
Córdova-Aguilar [] have demonstrated that urbanization puts pressure on agrar-
ian land use, endangers the environmental integrity of the region and impacts the
Huaytapallana Regional Conservation Area.
In the Andes, these agglomerations of a dynamic and multifunctional urban–
rural continuum represent the most important areas of population growth, land use
Figure 5.
Greenhouses of commercial flower cultivation, Sabana of Bogotá, Colombia (Photo credit: Stadel).
Sustainable Rural Development
conversion and excessive densities of buildings and infrastructural developments.
These newly emerging or rapidly expanding clusters are facing the challenge of
integrated and effective regional planning and policy actions that attempt to regu-
late the nature of the growth processes, to recognize the interests of urban and rural
stakeholders and to harmonize economic goals with ecosystem services.
. Mining clusters
Since early times, mining has played a major role in the economic development
of the Andes. With the discovery of rich deposits of the precious ores of gold and
silver, mining has resulted in the establishment of working camps and subsequently
in the foundation of smaller and larger settlements. The most famous of them were
the silver-mining city of Potosí (Figure ) in current Bolivia and the mercury-pro-
ducing city of Huancavelica in the Peruvian Sierra. Both of these booming centres
of the early colonial mining industry are located at high altitudes, Potosí at close
to m and Huancavelica at m. After the initial and generally short-lived
Figure 6.
Ciudad Vallada Piedra Roja, Chile (Borsdorf and Stadel 2015).
Horizontal and Vertical Archipelagoes of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Andean…
gold- and silver-mining boom, other mineral deposits became important: copper,
tin, zinc, lead, iron ore, salpetre and most recently lithium.
Unlike farming and agricultural settlements, the development of mining
settlements was not related to favorable environmental factors; many mining sites
emerged inlocations normally considered unfit for settlements: copper mining in
the arid Atacama desert and the mining of gold and a range of non-precious ores
at high elevations, some of them above the limit of the ecumene of farming and
pastoralism. The most striking example for this is La Rinconada in the southern
Peruvian Andes, a gold-mining boom town at m with an estimated population
of some , people. In addition, many mining clusters developed in areas of
poor accessibility and the building of adequate transportation lines represented a
major challenge. While the development of these mining areas largely superseded
environmental constraints, mining and the associated smelting activities had
entailed a corollary of environmental impacts, not only for the mining settlements
proper but also for a larger surrounding region, e.g. the excessive consumption of
regional water resources, deforestation, severe erosion, mass wasting processes and
water and air pollution.
While mining may offer to the regional population often a much needed alterna-
tive employment, encourage the development of infrastructures and services and
have stimulated regional economies, the mining sector for a long time has been
controlled and dominated by outside national and foreign stakeholders who had
little interest in a sustainable regional development. Bury [] portrayed the negative
repercussions of mining on traditional land tenure, water rights, agricultural land use
and community institutions. Furthermore, the fate of mining tends to be fluid and
uncertain, with many mining areas affected by the typical “boom and bust cycles”
resulting from an exhaustion of ores or sharply declining global market prices.
. Rural tourism nodes
“The exceptional diversity of landscapes and cultures in the Andes holds rich
opportunities for tourism” ([]: ). The ecological variety in the tropical and
Figure 7.
Potosí, Bolivia (Photo credit: Stadel).
Sustainable Rural Development
extratropical realm of the Andes ranges from the humid rainforests (selva) and
cloud forests (Ceja de la Montaña) to various types of highland grasslands, to
thorn steppes, saltpans (salares) and deserts. On the highest summits in the tropics
and on lower elevations in the extratropical realm, snow- and icefields cover the
mountains. In addition to this extraordinary ecological diversity, the impressive
mountain scenery of rugged peaks (most famous of them are the Torres del Paine
in Chilean Patagonia or the spectacular, glacier-covered Cordillera Blanca in Peru)
of the numerous active and dormant volcanoes; the deeply entrenched valleys (e.g.
the Colca Canyon in Peru); the impressive fjord coast of southern Peru, the impres-
sive rivers in the eastern Cordilleras; the mountain lakes, foremost Lake Titicaca;
or the vastness of the Peruvian and Bolivian Altiplano, the landscape appeal of the
Andes is further complemented by the rich cultural heritage of the region. Among
the famous visitor attractions are the pre-Inca sites (e.g. Chan Chan in the coastal
desert of Peru; Chavín de Huantar in the eastern Cordilleras of Peru; Tiahuanaco on
the Bolivian Altiplano); the impressive monuments and other relics of the material
culture of the Incas centred in Cuzco, Machu Picchu (Figure ), and other sites of
the Valle Sagrado. With the Spanish conquest, the Inca culture was superseded and
replaced by the Spanish cultural heritage. Visitors are attracted to the colonial towns
with their churches, monasteries, museums, plazas and typical colonial houses, to
attractive hacienda buildings (many of them converted to elegant hotels) and to
Figure 8.
Machu Picchu, Peru (Photo credit: Borsdorf and Stadel).
Horizontal and Vertical Archipelagoes of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Andean…
pilgrimage sites. Many of the pre-Spanish and colonial cities have been included
in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list, a fact which further enhances their
appeal for tourists. In a generalized model, Borsdorf and Stadel [] have portrayed
the altitudinal zonation in major types of Andean tourism in the tropical and
extratropical realm (Figure ).
In addition to the most common type of a sightseeing tourism attracted to the
most famous sites, other forms of visiting and tourism can be observed. Ecotourism
has been promoted at all altitudinal levels in many ecologically attractive niches.
Of particular interest to visitors are the National Parks, the Biosphere Reserves and
other types of protected areas. Still rather spotty are various forms of rural or agro-
tourism, but this type of tourism may still face the barriers of difficult accessibility,
substandard accommodation and other facilities, insufficient investment funds
and promotion and sometimes also hesitant rural host families and communities.
Successful examples are the comunidades of Vicos and Humacchuco in the Cordillera
Blanca region of Peru, to the north of the major mountain tourist centre of Huaraz
[]. With the support of the Instituto de Montañas in Huaraz, the local population
was involved in various ways in a gentle, ecologically and culturally compatible and
sustainable rural tourism.
Under the motto “cuidar la vida en las montañas” (protecting life in the moun-
tains), some communities around the Huascaran National Park (founded in )
benefit from this initiative and are participating in all stages of the planning and
management of rural tourism. Ecotourism and “soft” agrotourism are contrasting
with newer forms of sports, adventure or event tourism (e.g. mountain biking,
paragliding, white-water rafting, modern festivals). Mountaineering, here called
andinismo, has a long tradition and appeals to a national and international clientele.
Preferred destinations are the high Cordilleras, notably the Cordillera Blanca and
Cordillera de Huaylas of Peru, the Cordillera Real in Bolivia and the Patagonian
Cordillera of Argentina and Chile.
Figure 9.
Altitudinal zones and forms of Andean tourism (Borsdorf and Stadel 2015).
Sustainable Rural Development
. Rural spaces: development scenarios and options
With progressive urbanization, rural spaces have lost some of their former
demographic weight and economic importance. Nevertheless, rural populations
continue to represent a large share of the tropical Andean states, and the rural
realm forms an important part of national identities and cultures. Economically,
many areas can still be rated as marginal spaces, but many regions are important as
diversified agrarian areas, as water reservoirs, as mining sites, as destinations for
urban amenity migrants and tourists and most important as livelihoods for people.
Some rural core areas have become new growth poles and arenas for development
and modernization; other regions, in particular the poorly accessible and resource-
deficient areas, are threatened by natural hazards, by poverty, stagnation and
marginalization, aggravated by political, economic and social neglect and discrimi-
nation. External influences and impulses pervade the entire rural realm, even the
remote areas. Today, electronic information and communication media bring rural
people in touch with national and global developments. In addition, temporary
or permanent out-migrants furnish their home community external information,
in many cases also remittance cash flows or investments. This has a significant
economic, social and cultural impact on their former home communities. Further
external actors are government agencies, an array of non-governmental organiza-
tions, international institutions and powerful corporations and companies. The
consequence of these impacts are significant “livelihood transitions” and “place
transformations” [] which may even transform some Andean core regions into
globalized spaces [].
The result of these multiple endogenous and exogenous influences may have
positive or negative impacts on rural communities and livelihoods:
In some of the more accessible areas, technological innovations and market
developments have stimulated agricultural developments and changes in crop pat-
terns, leading to serious consequences for exchange relationships and trade between
zones. In other zones, people have diversified their livelihood through non-agrarian
activities (crafts, wage labour, etc.) or have migrated. ([]:).
Yarnall and Price [] have examined the impacts of migration and remit-
tance flows on communities in the Valle Alto of the Department of Cochabamba
in Bolivia. They observed a “new rurality” transforming the traditional rural
environment and society. The communities have benefited by being linked to new
diaspora knowledge networks, from increased material resources and new stimuli
of development. Some formerly poor peasant communities have even become
materially better off than nearby colonial towns. But at the same time, the remit-
tance dependence has made these communities vulnerable; as for various reasons,
these cash and investment flows may not be reliable and sustainable. Furthermore,
traditional forms of agricultural activities and employment may be eroded, and
emerging rather sharp economic and social disparities result in a fragmentation of
the rural realm.
It follows that rural development is complex, highly differentiated and at times
also controversial. A generally accepted approach is to harmonize environmental,
sociocultural and economic goals. Bebbington [] views rural development neither
solely rooted in conventional cultural values, economic pursuits and social structures
and to the persistence of a subsistence-based economy nor in an uncritical opening
to external influences, modernization, new technologies and an unrestricted adher-
ence to national and global market processes. An array of development interventions
are directed toward an attenuation of natural risks and their impacts, a protection
of natural resources and a preservation of the genetic pool of biodiversity. But these
efforts can only have a long-term success if the livelihoods of rural communities
Horizontal and Vertical Archipelagoes of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Andean…
and the basic needs of the local population are secured or enhanced in a sustainable
fashion []. Furthermore, it is today generally recognized that local and regional
cultural aspects should be the fundamental basis in the development discourse ([]:
). In the past, rural economic development was often guided by external views
and strategies without considering the “meaning that campesinos impart to the
economy as actors in a social context” ([], Abstract, ). Rist therefore pleads for
an “actor-oriented approach that is not based on preconceived, nonlocal concepts
(ibid.). This has been referred to as “ethno-development” [], “development with
identity” [], “participatory cultural development” and other terms. Andolina
etal. [] call this approachalternative modernities” enabling and mobilizing local
human resources and strengthening local ownership and responsibility []. Local
cultures and the traditional heritage are no longer seen as obstacles and barriers
to development, but as enriching, locally accepted and sustainable factors. Local
knowledge and practices should not be seen as static and paralyzing, but as dynamic
and evolving: “transformed by autochthonous innovations, by an adaptation to
changing circumstances, and by an adoption of knowledge, capabilities and tech-
nologies” ([]: , translated).
Based on his empirical research in the tropical Andes, Stadel [] derived the
following postulates for a campesino-oriented development”:
• Appreciation of the knowledge and experience of campesinos (saber campesino)
and strengthening of their cultural pride.
• Esteem for the traditions, cultural values, customs and rituals of local commu-
nities (lo andino, []; sagesse des Andes, []).
• Strengthening of communal solidarity and cooperation.
• Respect for nature (cosmovisión andina) and an aspiration to harmonize
environment and society.
• Exploration of the potentials and limitations of the natural and human
• Strengthening of the resilience and adaptive capacities of the local population,
facing environmental risks, economic and social vulnerabilities and potential
• Improvement of the living conditions of the population, with a special focus
on poor people and enhancement of the infrastructures and services in water
supply, sanitation, health, nutrition and housing.
• Promotion of environmentally compatible and sustainable forms of agriculture
(agroecología) and silviculture and of agricultural niche products.
• Enhancement and diversification of alternative income and employment
opportunities (e.g. in eco- or agrotourism).
• Mobilization of local human resources and creation of attractive local perspec-
tives for young people to stem their migration to cities.
• Improved access to microloans and other forms of financial and technical
Sustainable Rural Development
• Sensible use of external funds, especially of the remittances, to meaningful
types of investment.
• Safeguards against economic, social and political discrimination and exclusion
and struggles against external exploitation.
• Development emphasis on locally perceived and formulated needs, priorities
and implementation methods.
• Participation, enablement and empowerment in rural development and
ownership of projects by local communities.
• Enhanced communication channels, accessibility and transport facilities.
• Improvement of the quantity and quality of formal and informal education
and training.
In a simplified summarizing table (Figure ), Stadel [] has proposed a con-
ceptual model forsustainable campesino communities”. It is argued that campesino
communities can benefit by various positive intrinsic factors, as well as by favorable
extrinsic factors.
. Conclusion
In spite of rapidly expanding metropolitan centres and a progressing urbaniza-
tion, the identity of the Andean realm is still rooted in agricultural traditions and in
rural societies. Based on the mountainous character but also because of the oppor-
tunities for rural living, the Andes can be portrayed as a rich and varied mosaic of
agricultural fields, pastures, farms, villages and towns, forming archipelagos of
favorable environmental conditions, of human activities, and of cultural heritages.
Figure 10.
Sustainable campesino communities – a conceptual model (Stadel 2008).
Horizontal and Vertical Archipelagoes of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Andean…
The diversity of rural spaces is the result of the extraordinary variety of natural and
cultural traits, both in the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the Andes. In the
horizontal perspective, agricultural land use in the tropical regions is distinguished
from that of the extratropical one and is also differentiated by climatic influences
from the Pacific Ocean or from the continental basins of the Amazon and Orinoco
watersheds. Distinct agricultural patterns and rural landscapes are further resulting
from the human factors of accessibility to roads and markets, cultural traditions, as
well as external impacts.
While the core and most widespread functional identity of the Andes lies in
farming, pastoralism and agricultural settlements, the rural space is also shaped
by other activities, foremost mining, industry and commercial activities. More
recently, urban real-estate interests have “invaded” selected regions outside larger
cities, especially in areas with a specific landscape or climatic appeal. Urban “ame-
nity migrants” have moved into secluded peri-urban clusters, often into “gated
communities” (ciudades valladas). Another newer form of rural functional orienta-
tion is the recreational appeal and the national and international tourism potential
in attractive landscapes and cultural sites. Therefore, the extraordinary complexity
of micro-spatial rural clusters has generated an intricate pattern of diverse “archi-
pelagos” in the Andes.
The rural Andes are a dynamic realm undergoing many changes and deep trans-
formations. This applies to agriculture with its adaptation to changing environmen-
tal conditions, to new market orientations and in some cases to altered perceptions
and strategies of farmers. Rural regions, even in formerly remote locations, are no
longer isolated areas; in some cases, they may also no longer be regarded as periph-
eral spaces. New transportation arteries and communication channels connect rural
residents to national core areas, even to global regions and actors. But the changes
in the rural realm have not eliminated its disparities, and the “new rurality” has old
and new winners and losers. Some regions are stagnating, and some rural people
remain poor or are becoming marginalized, while others are dynamic, with its
stakeholders progressing and seizing new opportunities.
The viability of the rural Andes is endangered by a number of internal and
external threats. The vagaries of the climate and environmental deterioration
processes are threatening agriculturally based livelihoods, especially those of small
farmers. The persistent imbalance in the land tenure system, rural unemployment
and underemployment, poverty and deficient infrastructures and services, com-
bined with the lure of cities and other countries, have depleted many rural regions
of the human capital of young and enterprising people. Furthermore, the growing
external control of the land and its natural resources by external interests and
stakeholders threaten the livelihoods of the rural population.
What are the options for a sustainable future of the rural Andes? Generally
speaking, the rural realm must be effectively assisted to overcome inequality,
discrimination, poverty and marginality and thus become an attractive living space
and an alternative to the life in large cities or overseas. Rural population should be
empowered to control and mobilize their resources and to develop mechanisms for
enhanced local autonomy and self-determination. The author has proposed a gener-
alized conceptual model for “sustainable campesino communities”. But every region
and community has its own identity, needs and priorities and will undoubtedly find
their ways to enable them to seek appropriate development paths, likely in a careful
balance between proven environmentally and culturally adapted strategies and new
ones, innovative but also sensitive to the environment, societies and cultures of the
region: “The pursuit of sustainability is a local undertaking not only because each
community is ecologically and culturally unique but also its citizens have specific
place-based needs and requirements” ([]: ).
Sustainable Rural Development
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University of Salzburg, Austria
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provided the original work is properly cited.
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... To combat some of these issues, Zimmerer (1999) has proposed an alternative model of spatial organization that he calls 'overlapping patchworks' in which the combination of crops, productive activities and ideological frameworks transcend vertical environmental variability. In this view, there is a shift from: i) the focus on the gradual or heterogeneous nature of environmental transitions between altitudinal zones to the ways in which agro-pastoral activities have been changed and applied in different areas; ii) the focus on the adaptive capacities of various Andean crops to the possibility of human managed landscapes that could increase their range (see also Cardich 1980;Pearsall 2008;Gade 2016); and iii) the focus on a division of social forms by environment, to a discussion of how certain cultural, social, and political systems dynamically changed in the face of different ecologies across space and time (see also Van Buren 1996;Morlon 1996;Stadel 2020). In this regard, others such as Mayer (2002), have emphasised the historical character of the constitution of production zones, showing that they are flexible, reversible and transformable, subject to the political and economic ups and downs of food producing communities. ...
... In a recent historic context, the altitudinal zone model of land use was argued to have become insufficient to explain Andean communities' dynamics as accessibility increased with the development of road networks (Allan 1986). It has also recently been pointed out that other factors, such as the establishment of industrial-scale mining enclaves, rural tourism centres or urban migration, are organizational factors that are just as powerful, if not more so, than vertical environmental variability in the definition of 21st century agrarian landscapes (Stadel 2020). We do not consider the altitudinal zone model to be obsolete or useless. ...
In this paper we review the growing evidence of anthropogenic landscapespresent in the semi-deciduous neotropical forest biomes of eastern NW Argentina,which have remained relatively neglected in favour of arid to semiarid western Andean regions. The evidence gathered in de El Alto-Ancasti provides animportant case study where multidisciplinary methodologies have beenapplied to sites that document the emergence and variability in food productionstrategies across the eastern Andean forests and grasslands of WArgentina. We discuss evidence offarming structures from archaeological surveys, plant management from phy-tolith analysis, and the tempo and nature of settlement from archaeological excavations undertaken at a variety of sites in the El Alto Ancasti mountainrange. We suggest that the communities that inhabited this region during thefirst millennium AD (ca. 1500–1000 BP) established a strategy of ‘overlappingpatchworks’ of food production that were able to contend with considerableseasonal variability. We argue that, through the use of cross-channelling, low river areas, erosion control techniques and the establishment of mesothermal crops,including maize, legumes, and tubers, throughout the region, these societies adopted flexible strategies to adapt to life in a region prone to climatic change.
... Forman, summarizing several case studies, has emphasized the importance of the vertical model for the sustainable development of the Andean region, particularly at the local and regional levels [35]. More recently, the notion of vertical archipelagos and verticality has been applied to spatial mobility, often linked with social mobility [36][37][38], as well as to the development of agriculture and sustainable rural or peri-urban areas [39,40]. Applications of the vertical archipelago model in the 1970s and 1980s attempted to show continuities and changes compared to the past, and particularly from the perspective of rural communities. ...
... Applications of the vertical archipelago model in the 1970s and 1980s attempted to show continuities and changes compared to the past, and particularly from the perspective of rural communities. Recent studies, such as those of Hirsch [36] and Stadel [39], focus instead on the interconnections between different rural and urban spaces and their interconnections with flows of goods, people, ideas, capital and symbols that connect the region with national and international spaces [5,41]. The latest conformation of this pattern is undoubtedly more urban than in the past and follows the development of the urban system of the central Andean countries and of processes occurring all over the planet. ...
Full-text available
Mountain cities specializing in tourism increasingly aim at valorizing cultural and natural heritage to compete for global attention. In this context, the postmodern urbanization of mountains plays a decisive role: driven by touristification processes, it alters the sociospatial and economic configuration of mountain cities and their hinterlands, which are becoming vertically arranged "operational landscapes", and profoundly changes city-mountain interactions. To foster sustainable development in urbanizing mountain destinations, it is crucial to understand these settlements' embeddedness in both (1) nature and culture and (2) space and time. The Andean city of Huaraz is a case in point: an intermediate center in highland Peru, it is characterized by a strategic location in the Callejón de Huaylas (Santa Valley), influenced by Hispanic and Quechua culture and dominated by the glaciers of the Cordillera Blanca. Combining (1) a theoretical framework that considers planetary urbanization, touristification and vertical complementarity and (2) a case study technique inspired by urban environmental profiles, we trace the development of the city-mountain relation in Huaraz, focusing on the way in which the material and non-material dimensions of the surrounding mountains influence urban development. We conclude with a call for overcoming a set of three persisting dichotomies that continue to impair sustainable development.
... Forman por su parte, en un resumen de varios estudios de casos, ha destacado la importancia del modelo vertical para el desarrollo sostenible en la región andina, especialmente a nivel local y regional (Forman, 1978). Recientemente, los conceptos de «archipiélago vertical» y de «verticalidad» se ha aplicado a la movilidad espacial que a menudo es vinculada a la movilidad social (Milan y Ho, 2014;Hirsch, 2017;Babb, 2020), además del uso sostenible de la tierra de las zonas rurales o periurbanas (Haller, 2017;Stadel, 2019). Al aplicar el modelo de archipiélago vertical en los años 70 y 80, se intentó mostrar las continuidades y los cambios en comparación al pasado, especialmente desde la perspectiva de las comunidades rurales. ...
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Las ciudades de montaña especializadas en turismo intentan, cada vez más, destacar la importancia de su patrimonio cultural y natural. Esto para poder subsistir en la competencia por la atención mundial. En este contexto, la urbanización posmoderna de las montañas desempeña un papel crucial: es así que, al ser impulsada por procesos turísticos, esta cambia la configuración socioespacial y económica de las ciudades de montaña y su hinterland. Este último se convierte entonces en un «paisaje operacional» estructurado verticalmente que a la vez altera profundamente las interacciones entre la ciudad y la montaña. Con el fin de promover el desarrollo sostenible en las zonas montañosas urbanizadas, es fundamental comprender el arraigo de estos asentamientos tanto en (1) naturaleza y cultura como en (2) espacio y tiempo. La ciudad andina de Huaraz es un buen ejemplo, ya que es un centro urbano intermedio en las tierras altas de Perú. Además, se caracteriza por su ubicación estratégica en el Callejón de Huaylas (valle del río Santa) con influencia de las culturas española y quechua, aparte de ser dominado por los glaciares de la Cordillera Blanca. Por medio de la combinación (1) de un marco teórico que considera la urbanización planetaria, el turismo y la complementariedad vertical y (2) de una técnica de estudio de casos inspirada en los perfiles ambientales urbanos, trazamos la evolución de la relación ciudad-montaña en Huaraz. A la vez, nos concentramos en la forma y modo, en que las dimensiones inmateriales y materiales de las montañas circundantes influyen en el desarrollo urbano. Concluimos exhortando a superar tres dicotomías persistentes que siguen obstaculizando el desarrollo sostenible.
The aim of the article. To analyze the peculiarities of height differentiation of valley-river landscapes and to study their current structure taking a model region as an example – a plain territory of the Right-bank Ukraine. Methods. The study is based on the ideas of F. M. Milkov on anthropogenic landscapes and their vertical (height) differentiation. In the process of research the constructive-scientific landscape approach and the principles of complexity and natural-anthropogenic combination were used. The main research methods, in addition to field, are methods of theoretical generalization, historical and landscape, the leading factor, zoning, modeling, analogy and more. Scientific novelty. The main focus of scientists is only on the impact of vertical zonation on mountain landscapes. Height differentiation of valley-river landscapes has not been given due attention. This is especially true of river valley landscapes that have been transformed as a result of economic activity. Practical value. Previous experience in the optimization of anthropogenic landscapes shows that taking into account their height differentiation is a necessary condition for the development of various projects and schemes of environmental management. Given the growing anthropogenic pressure on the environment, such studies will help to better understand the course of negative man-made processes and contribute to the optimization, conservation and protection of modern valley and river landscapes. In the long run, this may be the basis for similar research in river valleys around the world. Research results. The development of height differentiation within the boundaries of valley-river landscapes of the Right-bank Ukraine was considered based on the earlier experience. 2 height-landscape levels (“young” accumulative and “typical” accumulative-denudation) and 4 tiers were singled out in river valleys. Bridges, dams, causeways, derivative HES, “water” mills, anthropogenic islands, ponds of a riverbed type or meliorative canals – all these are typical for a lower tier of a “young” accumulative height-landscape level. A middle tier is represented with water-economic and agricultural landscapes. An upper tier is formed with residential and mining-industrial landscapes. In river valleys a “typical” accumulative-denudation height-landscape level has one lower tier which is formed with two natural types of localities: sloping and canyon-like. This tier is characterized with a good preservation (up to 35%) of natural landscapes. Anthropogenic landscapes are represented mainly with forest-cultural, residential, agricultural and road landscape complexes. The conclusion has been made that with further anthropogenization of river valleys it is expedient to make designs of anthropogenic landscapes, distributing them on height-landscape teirs evenly and thoughfully. Within the boundaries of a “young” accumulative height-landscape level it advisable to carry out the restoration and optimization of water-economic landscape-technical systems which are at the “aging” stage. To preserve valley-river landscapes it should be forbidden to take any economic measures except for the optimization ones.
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The sustainability of the human society is endangered by the global human-ecological crisis, which consists of many global problems that are closely related to each other. In this phenomenon, the global population explosion has a central role, because more people have a larger ecological footprint, a larger consumption, more intensive pollution, and a larger emission of carbon dioxide through their activities.This book presents the current state of sustainability and intends to provide the reader with a critical perspective of how the 21st century societies must change their development model facing the new challenges (internet of things, industry 4.0, smart cities, circular economy, sustainable agriculture, etc.), in order to achieve a more liveable world.
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Since the turn of the millennium, the Peruvian protected-area system has provided regional governments with the possibility of initiating and managing Regional Conservation Areas, a category that complements the system of national protected areas. Regional capitals and other Andean cities welcome this opportunity, and increasingly use this instrument to safeguard important ecosystem services. The city of Huancayo and the Cordillera Huaytapallana are a case in point that underlines the need to integrate cities and protected areas in planning and policy making, and to promote conflict-free development along the urban-rural continuum.
Analyses and assesses environmental and socio-economic stress factors as perceived by Andean campesinos (peasant farmers). The study reveals that some constraints of the natural environment and development shortcomings, foremost those related to steep slopes and erosion, are not necessarily perceived by the local population as major stress factors. Other problems that were identified by the farmers, such as the shortage of agricultural labour in some areas, were unexpected by the author. The paper further emphasizes that certain perceived problems such as insufficient community infrastructures and services, the high cost of agricultural supplies, and inadequate technical assistance are prominant throughout the entire study region. -from Author
This comment on 'Accessibility and altitudinal zonation models of mountains' by N. Allan maintains that altitudinal zonation is not merely a matter of relief, distance, or remoteness, to be overcome by road access and motorization. It is a much more complex system. -after Author
The altitudinal zonation model, derived from biogeography, has been widely used for characterizing man's imprint on the mountain landscape. Patterns of human activity visible on the landscape have ranged from alpine pastures, forest, and agriculture in a low local relief Alpine model to a six-story model of a high local relief valley of 3500 m in the Peruvian Andes. These models reflect successful human manipulation of the great range in environmental conditions found in mountain habitats. With the advent of road, track, and bridge construction, especially in the Alpine region of Europe, radical changes in land use have occurred. These changes are functionally related to the degree of accessibility between mountains and lowland areas. A similar process is now under way in the Hindukush-Karakorum-Himalaya where wheeled vehicle routes, many of them constructed for military strategic purposes, have exposed isolated, subsistence-oriented mountain communities to rapid surface communication. Evidence from these mountain communities indicates that major changes in cropping systems, pasturing, and economic integration are taking place. -Author