Project properties

Title Securing the future of the Amazon (or Brazil) nut by large-scale enrichment planting
Group Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group
Project type thesis
Credits 27-33
Supervisor(s) M. Jansen (external, ETH Zurich)
Examiner(s) Prof. Dr. P.A. (Pieter) Zuidema
Contact info
Begin date 2017/12/14
End date
Description Internship or thesis

Amazon nuts are an important product that is generally harvested from natural tree populations in many parts of the Bolivian, Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon rain forest. It provides income to many people in mostly rural areas, and therefore provides an important incentive for forest conservation. A large part of the production is exported to Europe and the USA. Several recent studies and local empirical information have shown however, that this incentive for forest conservation is under threat, because of a lack of natural regeneration. If regeneration continues to be low, Amazon nut tree populations will strongly decline in the future. One option that can change this trend is to aid regeneration by planting seedlings. However, methods of doing this are still in the process of development, and a cost effective method of doing this does currently not exist. A particular problem is the low growth and survival rates of seedlings that have been transplanted to the forest. Furthermore, large scale enrichment will probably require large investments of time and money. Therefore, to be able to execute such a program, identification of costs, current capacities of the local populations, and mechanisms that could finance such a project are essential. Student projects could help developing these methods, by answering one of the following questions related to enrichment planting:

- How does the degradation level of the forest from where seeds are originated influence seedling growth and survival in nurseries?
- To what extent can management practices influence seedling growth and survival in the forest?
- What are the costs associated with the different management practices, and what is the current status of capacity of brazil nut concession holders related to enrichment planting?
Data for student projects will be collected in the highly biodiverse Amazon region Madre de Dios in Peru. Projects one and two involve experimental work in nurseries and in forest sites in the region. Students will be involved in experimental design, collecting of data, and in data analysis. Furthermore, students will intensively collaborate with each other and the rest of the research team.
These student projects are part of a larger project (named SUSTAIN) of the Swiss university ETH Zurich and the international research centre CIFOR, that aims to identify the ecological, social and economic sustainability of Amazon nut supply chain from Madre de Dios, Peru, to Switzerland. Student projects will therefore directly contribute to this larger aim. More information about the larger project can be found on

Start: Open, but some limitations apply to the start date depending on the subtopics described above

Biodiversity and functional diversity/ Population and forest dynamics/ Sustainable forest management/ Forest restoration and succession / Ecosystem services / Agroforestry/tropical zone/America's
Used skills
Requirements FEM-30306 Forest Ecology and Forest Management; REG-31806 Ecological Methods I