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Title: Integrating analyses of local land-use regulations, cultural perceptions and land-use / land cover data for assessing the success of community - based conservation
Other Titles: IDRC doctoral research award / Bourse du CRDI aux chercheurs candidats au doctorat
Authors: Dalle, Sarah Paule
de Blois, Sylvie
Caballero, Javier
Johns, Timothy
Date: 2006
Publisher: Elsevier
Abstract: Studies of land-use/land cover change are an important means for examining the viability of community-based programs for forest conservation, although an analysis of the social processes influencing land-use decisions is necessary to understand the factors leading to different conservation outcomes. In this paper, we demonstrate that an analysis of locally recognized land-use rules and regulations embedded in local institutions can inform remote-sensing approaches by helping: (1) to elucidate some of the local perceptions, criteria and interactions with outside agencies that drive conservation actions and (2) to better interpret the spatial patterns of land-use change and forest conservation revealed by remote-sensing data. Based on a case study of a forest ejido from the Maya Zone of Quintana Roo, Mexico, we evaluate changes in forest cover and in local land-use regulations before and after the initiation in the mid-1980s of a community forestry program, the Plan Piloto Forestal (PPF). Methods included development of a time series of land cover maps based on LANDSAT imagery from 1976, 1988, 1991, 1997 and 2000, as well as interviews and participant observation with local farmers and community leaders. Results indicate a high degree of forest conservation on community lands with net rates of forest loss of 0.6–0.7%/year. Locally recognized conservation regulations included a number of forest reserves as well as regulations which protect specific forest types, resulting from both local initiatives and interventions of external agencies. These initiatives included but were not limited to the PPF, highlighting the importance of evaluating community-based conservation programs within a broader historical context. Conservation regulations protecting an important commercial non-timber forest product (Manilkara zapota) pre-dated the PPF and may have facilitated its implementation. In the most accessible agricultural areas, the only mature forest patches were customary forest reserves and an area regenerated from secondary forests, protected due to enrichment plantings of commercial timbers. Recognition of local Maya terminology used to distinguish forest types was crucial for proper interpretation of local land-use regulations, which revealed that less-valued forest types may not be adequately protected on community lands. We suggest that future research should examine the significance of the less-valued forest types for global biodiversity conservation. In addition careful consideration of the historical antecedents and community institutions which may have facilitated the implementation of the Plan Piloto Forestal will be important for the successful application of this model of community forestry to other socio-economic and cultural contexts.
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Project Number: 101290
Project Title: IDRC Corporate Awards 2002-2003
Access: IDRC Only
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