Despite advances in social scientific research on African descended groups in the Americas, scholars call attention to the need for research on human-environment relationships among these groups. This article responds to this call and examines plant management practices in agricultural systems and associated local knowledge systems in the Quilombo community of Mumbuca, Minas Gerais, Brazil. We describe local classifications of environments in the landscape, agricultural practices, and forest extraction activities within the context of residents' struggles to maintain access to their territory—first due to encroachment by large landowners and more recently due to the establishment of the Mata Escura Biological Reserve, overlying 74% of residents' territory. Research reveals that residents maintain complex resource management activities despite environmental restrictions in place for over a decade and that these practices have contributed to landscape configurations, forest cover, and biodiversity within the territory. Wilderness discourses underlying conservation policies, however, render residents and their conservationist practices invisible to policy makers. We argue that Quilombo lands, just as indigenous territories, are important conservation areas, maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services. This paper advances anthropological, ethnoecological, and historical ecological studies on Quilombo communities in Brazil and sheds light on the social condition of rural Quilombo groups and their multiple forms of resistance.
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Vol. 37 • No. 1