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Collective Boundaries and Forest Dependency in the Western Highlands of Guatemala

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Córdova, J. P. Prado; Gramajo, S. E.; Wunder, Sven; Olsen, C. Smith
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1079
Sector: Forestry
Social Organization
Region: Central America & Caribbean
Subject(s): forest management
social behavior
collective action
indigenous institutions
Abstract: "A socio-economic survey across the Guatemalan western highlands provides our foundation for exploring the functioning of communal management regimes in varying contexts of forest dependency. Our analysis is intended to shed light on the management rationale underlying the use of forest resources, and its relation to local livelihoods, with emphasis on land tenure and local empowerment. An in-depth survey was carried out across 12 villages in three townships where different ways of interaction among individually owned plots, communal forest and labour were found. Our assessment suggests that one villages attempt to obtain a registered land title for a communal forest area catalysed frictions with the surrounding villages, as the rest of the user groups considered it an exclusion from the commons. Their concern stemmed mainly from the widespread awareness about the importance of preserving these forest lands for ecological services such as protection against landslides in a predominantly steep landscape, and hydrological regulation; and their determination to preserve their hitherto communal land regime at a coarse scale. Furthermore, our survey indicates that the village in question was the poorest one in our sample, thereby implying an association between welfare and social cohesion. These preliminary findings add to the current debate about local livelihoods strategies in a context of common pool resources."

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