Resource Details

Understanding the interaction of rural people with ecosystems: a case study in a tropical dry forest of Mexico

Literature: Journal Articles

Castillo, A., Magaña, A., Pujadas, A., Martínez, L., Godínez, C. 2005. Understanding the Interaction of Rural People with Ecosystems: A Case Study in a Tropical Dry Forest of Mexico. Ecosystems 8: 630.

Contact Info

A. Castillo:


Centro de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Morelia, MEXICO


Species Info



  • While many papers from scientists have focused on the biology and ecology of the Chamela-Cuixmala region, relatively few have added in the human element to their work. 
  • The purpose of this paper was to report on the first effort to understand the relationship between the rural locals and the often-studied tropical dry forest.
  • Researchers walked among local villagers, conversing and listening to them. Three ejidos (a communal land tenure system) and one community of avecindados (people who possess no land but work on private farms or in the tourism industry) were selected for the study. A total number of 150 people were subjects for this study.
  • An environmental history of the region was created. Themes studied were 1) how people perceived ecosystems, 2) their understanding of ecosystem transformation for development activities on one hand, and 3) ecosystem conservation on the other.
  • The case study found that setting aside land to be protected without considering local people’s needs and perspectives does not contribute to ecosystem conservation but may provoke rejection and conflict among stakeholders. The way in which scientific research had been conducted at the site (mostly biological and ecological studies) was also questioned, reinforcing the need for more integrated analysis of linked social and ecological systems.
  • People did not understand why for decades the government promoted policies for the transformation of forests to make them productive and now these activities are condemned in the name of ecosystem conservation. They argued that only private owners or the government should be responsible for ecosystem conservation.


  • Mexico
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