Publications

From Enemies to Allies : Transforming the Relationship with Local Communities in the Management of Protected Areas : The Uncertain Case of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve

2009-09-01

 The presence of inhabitants in protected areas, a common occurrence in developing countries, represents a major challenge for conservation. This MA thesis questions the state’s strategy in the case of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, in Mexico, a strategy that is officially based on the implementation of sustainable development through the participation of local communities. Working with the assumption that sustainable development is a political concept that implies a competition between different actors in order to define what has to be sustained, for whom, by whom, why, and how, the author first analyzes the factors that, until now, have impeded local inhabitants’ participation. He argues that the subordination of civil society by the state during the last century is a historical burden that has debilitated civil society’s capacity for effective participation. Second, he discusses the state’s vision of sustainable development and the weight given to the two conflicting visions held, on the one hand, by local inhabitants and, on the other, by the environmentalists and biologists. The author concludes that the state’s appeal for the participation of local communities is not in recognition of the fact that local inhabitants have the right to greater input in the definition of sustainable development in the region, but needs to be understood as a strategy to achieve rule compliance. Unfortunately, then, while the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve may be managed according to a vision of sustainable development, this is not a vision that has emerged from a dialogue between the state and civil society. Local support is thus unlikely since transforming local communities into allies would rather require achieving a compromise based upon genuine dialogue.

Thesis_Joli-Coeur (PDF)
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