Socio-Environmental Regimes in Natural Protected Areas: A Case Study in La Sepultura Biosphere Reserve

Meza Jiménez, Amayrani; Parra Vázquez, Manuel Roberto; Barrios, Luis García; Verschoor, Gerard; Estrada Lugo, Erin I.J.


In this chapter, we analyze the reasons why local socio-environmental systems have met in a limited way the purpose of balancing conservation with development in the Upper Basin of the Tablón River (UBTR), located in La Sepultura Biosphere Reserve (SEBIRE). The study used a transdisciplinary exercise which conceives the Local Socio-Environmental Systems (LSES) as complex and adaptive systems, in which four subsystems interact: (i) the local regime, (ii) the landscape, (iii) the agrarian system, and (iv) the territorial action group. Two common property holdings (“ejidos”) were studied with the case study method. The four subsystems were analyzed through participatory and qualitative research. The results indicated: (a) the local regime imposes norms that limit the decision-making capacity of local actors and its compensatory payments generate dependency and a reactive attitude; (b) the setback of forest frontiers has remained relatively stable due to SEBIRE environmental standards, but natural capital is increasingly vulnerable to socio-environmental disturbances; (c) domestic units (DUs) have little capacity to respond to environmental and market changes; their development is restricted by the geographical, social, and economic conditions of the basin; some producers are unable to cover their production costs and their limited resources barely reach the minimum welfare line; and (d) in the UBTR there are important socio-environmental innovation processes that have generated adaptive management alternatives, but these still face significant challenges at the basin level. In conclusion, the LSES of the UBTR has restrictions on its four components and has not reached the capacity to be socially reproduced. In these LSES, the local regime has promoted an economic model and territorial management mechanisms that have made it environmentally and economically vulnerable.