4186 - Searching for sustainable local development alternatives? - The cases of the payment for ecosystem services and coffee plantations, Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve, Veracruz, Mexico

The Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve (LTBR) (Veracruz, Mexico) is one of the five richest Mexican ecological hotspots. Despite being located between two key economic poles, Veracruz Harbour to the north and the conurbation Coatzacoalcos-Minatitlán, the centre of the Mexican oil industry to the southeast, it remains an economically marginal region, which has undergone enormous socio-ecological changes in the last 60 years. In particular state distribution of land to local indigenous and immigrated landless peasants to found agricultural communities in the spirit of the agrarian reform and the growth of private cattle ranching have led to the loss of ca.85% of the original forest cover, but failed to significantly raise the living standards of most of the local population. In 1998, the area was designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve as a result of intensive conservation efforts. This protected area concept seeks to reconcile conservation with the multiple use of natural resources. In two case studies, based on qualitative empirical social research methods, we investigate: 1) opportunities and limits in the current implementation in LTBR of a Mexican national programme for the payment of ecosystem services, which seeks to halt deforestation, while contributing to climate mitigation, and 2) diverse coffee plantations in LTBR to understand which management types provide valid economic and ecological alternatives for the local population. Based on case study results, we reflect on existing challenges and possible paths in fostering synergies between local sustainable development and conservation in an economically marginal area, characterised by high levels of out-migration and unemployment.

Keywords: Sustainable local development, Conservation, Mexico, natural resource management, qualitative social research

Author: de la Vega-Leinert, A. Cristina (Greifswald University, Germany / Deutschland)


University of Vienna | Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring 1 | 1010 Vienna | T +43 1 4277 17575