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Tapping into nature’s benefits : values, effort and the struggle to co-produce pine resin

Heinze, Alan; Kuyper, Thomas W.; García Barrios, Luis E.; Ramírez Marcial, Neptalí; Bongers, Frans

Abstract

The concept of ecosystem services (ES) and related conceptual frameworks like the cascade model, can be relevant to explore the ways through which people and nature are connected and how the benefits of nature, upon which people depend, are realised. An integrated cascade framework was used to study the ES pathway of pine resin, a traded forest product, in a rural mountain community in Mexico. We conducted mixed-methods research, combining participatory tools with measures of service capacity, resin yield, and key farmer endowments. Resin was co-produced by an intricate interaction between the human and natural components of the social-ecological system. Substantial human inputs and coordinated efforts were required to realise resin benefits, and people’s appreciation and plural values emerged along the whole service pathway. Though there were stark differences in natural resource endowments, working farmers gained a high share of resin’s income through labour, labour relations and social networks. But most social conflicts and struggles also occurred over labour relations and organisation, revealing power dynamics. Furthermore, external actors controlled different mechanisms of access, and exerted power over the community’s ability to derive benefits from resin. In resin co-production, values connect people to the landscape, while labour and power mediate the access to nature’s benefits.