A Region Under Threat? Climate Change Impacts, Institutional Change and Response of Local Communities in Coastal Yucatán

Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


The Yucatán peninsula is the region in Mexico most at risk in the face of climate change, and it is a focal point of sociopolitical and institutional changes that have led to serious environmental degradation. The northern part is particularly affected by irregular rainfall, droughts, and tropical storms, as well as institutional changes (mainly in private property land rights) leading to different uses of forests that are undermining reforestation efforts. The area also experiences catastrophic wildfires that often follow tree-toppling hurricanes exacerbated by climate change. These conditions affect the livelihoods of local people, forcing them to adjust. In addition, inequality in development between the wealthy Caribbean tourist coast and its rural hinterland hinder the sustainability and improvement of livelihoods inland, discouraging rural people from investing in their land and leading them to migrate for work. However, a stable population and long-term economic investment in forests and forestry institutions could be the basis for a more climate-resilient landscape. To understand these processes, this chapter focuses on historical and institutional transformations of economic exploitation, social and political marginalization, and specific adaptation strategies like circular labor migration of the local population in northeastern Yucatán. This institutional history has made the population and the landscape more vulnerable to climate events and climate change, and has made local collective action for reforestation more difficult. The only major area that remains forested is communally owned. The chapter discusses the implications of the commons for sustainable development and increased resilience under conditions of peripheralization and climate change.


Climate change adaptation Institutional change Reforestation Commons Mexico 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Development and Environment, Institute of Social AnthropologyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Institute of Social AnthropologyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

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