Beyond Nature Appropriation: Towards Post-development Conservation in the Maya Forest

Article English OPEN
Jose E Martinez-Reyes (2014)
  • Publisher: Wolters Kluwer Medknow Publications
  • Journal: Conservation & Society (issn: 0972-4923)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.4103/0972-4923.138417
  • Subject: wildlife conservation | political ecology | post-development | social movements | Zona Maya | Sian Ka′an Biosphere Reserve | Quintana Roo | Mexico | Ecology | QH540-549.5

The establishment of biosphere reserves in Mexico was followed by alternative livelihood conservation/development projects to integrate indigenous groups into Western style conservation under the idea of sustainable development and participation. In this paper, I discuss the outcomes of two forest wildlife management projects in one Maya community along the Sian Ka′an Biosphere Reserve in the state of Quintana Roo. Both projects ultimately failed and the community mobilised and expelled the NGO from the community. I argue that the failure of these projects involved two dynamics: 1) lack of coherence between the objectives of state agencies, conservation NGOs, and the local community; and 2) unequal ethnic relations, reproducing relations of colonial inequality and dictating how indigenous groups can participate in managing a territory for conservation. If collaboration and local participation are key in conservation management programs, these case studies suggest that greater institutional accountability and community autonomy are needed to make the practice of conservation more democratic and participatory. The expulsion of the NGO as a conservation and development broker also opened the space for, and possibilities of, post-development conservation practice that challenges the normalising expectations of Western biodiversity conservation.
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