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Warwick graduate passionate about economic development explores the Amazon

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Warwick graduate passionate about economic development explores the Amazon

A recent Warwick Economics student has returned from a three month expedition in the Brazilian Amazon.

Gabriele Warwick, alongside friend Adam Conroy, undertook the journey of over 1000 km, descending the Arinos, Juruena and Tapajós rivers by canoe and experiencing many different aspects of Amazonia.

Gabriele is passionate about economic development and believes the management and conservation of the Amazon rainforest is key if economic growth is to become sustainable. He hopes that the knowledge and experiences he gained from the expedition will deepen his understanding of the complex issues and conflicts of interest in the Amazon region.

About the adventure, Gabriele said:

“The expedition was easily the hardest thing I have ever done, regularly getting stung by various insects and getting startled by many snakes at our campsites. On the other hand, we passed through some astonishingly beautiful scenery and saw a wide variety of wildlife.

The most special part of the expedition however was the encounters we had with the fishermen, ribeirinhos (traditional river people) and indigenous peoples who lived on the banks of the river. We were almost always offered fish and game and I have some very special memories of laughing, sharing stories and learning from the isolated populations that we met.”

During his time in the Amazon, Gabriele found it interesting to think about the lives of the people he met from an economics perspective, and in particular that many rural communities operated as part of an economic system largely undescribed by economic theory.

For example, many societies he visited relied partly on reciprocal giving for their well-being such that if a neighbour is hungry, you share your fish with him in the knowledge that the days you don’t catch fish, you can turn to your neighbours for help.

"Interactions in a formal market place only tended to occur about once a month because the forest and river were able to fulfill a large part of people's needs. People build their own houses from wood taken from the forest; catch fish, hunt and grow food to feed themselves and local medicines from the forest could be used to treat a lot of minor illnesses.

The most important parameters in the lives of the people who live in these remote locations were perhaps the quantity of fish in the river and the health of the forest instead of the going price and wage rates, although these were clearly still important when travelling to the market to buy fuel and exchange natural produce for other goods.

Overall, it was fascinating to get an insight into the lives of Amazonia’s peoples and an important reminder about the diversity of economic and social systems which exist on this planet".

You can read more about Gabriele’s expedition on his blog; "Arinos to Amazon: Canoeing the world's largest rainforest".