Towards an Understanding of the Human-Environment System of Mayan Communities: Knowledge, Users, Beliefs and Perception of Groundwater in Yucatan

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"Human-Environment Systems emphasises the linkages between environmental (e.g., natural resources) and human systems (e.g., society). The major goal of this project is to methodically investigate Human and Environmental Systems in contemporary Mayan communities in Mexico as a case study, by combining natural and social science approaches. The background of the project is the increasing production of scientific literature addressing the importance of groundwater ecosystems for the provision of services to societies and the rapid change and degradation of the groundwater in the area. Particular emphasis in the Yucatan Peninsula aquifer case will be given to the interactions of communities and institutions related to the use and management of groundwater and to the understanding of feedbacks concerning human induced changes in this ecosystem. Nowadays, the aquifer is threatened by anthropogenic activities including tourism, agriculture and solid waste disposal degrading the capacity of this resource. The aim is to develop a framework to study the dynamic relationships between groundwater and social processes to enhance our understanding of the systems and to develop an empirically ]based simulation model by involving institutions and stakeholders. We will include both biophysical processes and associated human behaviours of local members by considering the decision ]making of actors who influence the ecosystem, their interactions, roles and perceptions. In a broad sense, the use of system analysis and the analysis of traditional Mayan knowledge will be investigated to find solutions for the groundwater problem and to foster regional development in contemporary Mayan society."



human-environment interaction, groundwater, Maya (Native American people)