, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 383-394
Date: 29 May 2008

The Local Perception of Tropical Deforestation and its Relation to Conservation Policies in Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve, Mexico

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Abstract

We examine the ways both deforestation and conservation are viewed by people of two villages with different ethnic composition located within the biosphere reserve of Los Tuxtlas, Mexico. The rain forest is considered to be important, since it provides many resources and environmental benefits. Residents do notice forest degradation, although deforestation is not one of their major concerns. In the mestizo village, 65% of interviewees indicated they felt responsible for deforestation, while only 30% of indigenous villagers felt the same. In both communities, nearly half the respondents see themselves as powerless to take actions to preserve the forest. We analyzed the management plan for the reserve in light of our results, and found authorities’ perceptions differ from that of local communities. This study emphasizes the lack of factual data and common goals for biodiversity conservation. Our work points to the urgency to build conservation efforts that involve the different social actors, who diverge in interests and views, particularly in countries like Mexico, where rich biodiversity regions are also broadly inhabited.