Ecological Variability and Rule-Making Processes for Forest Management Institutions: A Social-Ecological Case Study in the Jalisco Coast, Mexico


"Analysis of social-ecological systems is becoming increasingly used since the framework provides a valuable set of variables for understanding relationships between people and ecosystems. This interaction focuses on the use and management of natural resources that, in many cases, are common-pool resources. In Mexico, common-pool resources have long been explored since at least 60% of the forested lands in the country are held under the legal figure of ‘ejidos’ and indigenous communities, which aimed at driving the collective use of lands and resources. However, few studies incorporate ecological processes for an integrated understanding of social-ecological systems. In this study, we seek to understand how ecological variability influences the creation and functioning of different rules and, consequently, institutions for forests management. Our case study was conducted in an ejido with high ecological variability located in Jalisco on the Pacific coast of Mexico. The research approach was interdisciplinary and combined qualitative and quantitative methods. We conducted participant observation and 23 semi-structured interviews; botanical collections were also carried out. We found that there is strong influence between ecological variables and the emergence of rules and collective action. The most important variables influencing these processes were the economic value of resource units, ecosystem services perceived by local people and location and size of the resource system (including area and number of species). Historical processes also play a part that generates knowledge of resource systems and the current social, economic and political settings at a larger scale. The establishment of relationships with variables that produce certain outcomes for the framework of the social-ecological system is an important challenge to be met in order to move forward in both theory and practice."



forest management, social-ecological systems