Mexico’s “Ejido” System Has Brought Communities Together for Forest Conservation, but Often Without Women

 

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Photo: Liz Tasa Palomino/Getty Images

This piece appeared in Teen Vogue, June 2018

“Just a few hours drive from the tourist towns of Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen sits one of Mexico’s largest protected areas, the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. First established in 1989, the reserve — combined with the neighboring Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala — comprises the largest and least disturbed forest landscape in North and Central America. It’s a biological treasure…

Mexico’s ejido system is nearly one of a kind. A system for community-based land ownership, ejidos conduct a range of forestry operations on the land granted to them by the federal government…. By working to preserve the health of the forest that buffers the reserve, these communities help to ensure that the reserve itself — and all the wildlife that depend on it — remain protected.

From a conservation perspective, the ejido system is a resounding success. By allowing communities to benefit from the sustainable use of their natural resources, the overall ecosystem remains healthy.

But from a social perspective, the ejido system could be in trouble…

‘You can’t talk about the future of the forest without talking about youth,’ Maria Ghiso, education program manager for a U.S.-based nonprofit called Rainforest Alliance, tells Teen Vogue. If the young people don’t see a future for themselves in their home communities, they’ll simply leave, she says. This worldwide phenomenon is known as youth outmigration, and it’s bad news for forest conservation….”
Read more about this work in the full article here.

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