From coping to adaptation to economic and institutional change – Trajectories of change in land-use management and social organization in a Biosphere Reserve community, Mexico

E.N. Speelman, J.C.J. Groot, L.E. García-Barrios, K. Kok, H. van Keulen, P.A. Tittonell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Smallholder farming communities are increasingly affected by local impacts of international market dynamics, and (inter)governmental economic and nature conservation policies to which they respond through coping or adaptation. Although the attributes that underpin the capacity to adapt are widely agreed upon in literature, empirical evidence on how rural communities can develop adaptations are still scarce. Here, we provide such evidence based on a comprehensive driver-response reconstruction of a community in the buffer-zone of a Biosphere Reserve in Chiapas, Mexico. We found that coping (between 1990 and 2000) was gradually replaced by adaptations (1995–2010) based on: (i) diversification of land-use, (ii) improved social organization, (iii) improved communal decision-making, and (iv) more sustainable forms of land management. The diversification of local farming systems through inclusion of organic forest-based palm and coffee cultivation and the establishment of associated organizations, formed the basis of these changes. These adaptations were mainly supported by improved social, institutional and political capital. Communal forest resources, long-term support of an NGO and a highly motivated population, were essential circumstances that allowed these trajectories to develop. However, current unequal land and power distribution could undermine and debilitate adaptive capacity. Communities and supportive organizations need to be aware and capable to adjust continuously to prevent today's adaptation strategies from becoming tomorrow's coping responses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-44
JournalLand Use Policy
Volume41
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • adaptive capacity
  • ecological systems
  • latin-america
  • power distribution
  • cover change
  • trade-offs
  • resilience
  • conservation
  • agriculture
  • vulnerability

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