Mexico Programme

Oaxaca’s incredible cultural diversity is closely interwoven with its biological diversity: large remaining tracts of primary cloud forest characterised by remarkable rates of plant and animal endemism. The forested landscapes of the Chinantla are traditionally managed by Indigenous Chinantec people. However, ongoing processes of colonisation continue to marginalise and impoverish indigenous communities. Working closely with local NGO Anima Mundi, we supported community efforts to secure rights to their territories and resources, protect their food sovereignty and manage their biocultural diversity and cultural landscapes.

Mexico Programme


Photo by Christian R. Vogl

Assessing the effectiveness of community-based management strategies for biocultural diversity conservation (COMBIOSERVE; 2012-2015)

The COMBIOSERVE consortium, through which GDF collaborated with 10 other European and Latin American organisations, sought to assess the effectiveness of community-based management strategies for biocultural diversity conservation. Adopting an explicit co-enquiry approach the consortium carried out multidisciplinary research in field sites in Mexico, Brazil and Bolivia, generating evidence regarding the challenges and opportunities of community-based conservation in Latin America. COMBIOSERVE found that the social-ecological changes and external interventions desired by communities are intimately related to their current socio-economic and vulnerability conditions.

Implementing community-based landscape and resource monitoring to consolidate voluntary conservation (2012-2014)

Responding to community requests for support, this project focused on providing Chinantec community researchers with skills to boost the management of their cultural landscapes and natural areas through the establishment of a participatory biodiversity monitoring programme. Following the guidelines collectively established during a prior project on Voluntary Conserved Areas, we collaborated with government agencies, academic institutions and community researchers to design and implement the monitoring of landscape and resource management in the VCAs of three Chinantec communities.

Examining the role of local participation in biodiversity conservation: case studies from southeast Mexico (2010-2012)

As part of the global interdisciplinary consortium CONSERVCOM, we examined the social and environmental opportunities and risks of different biodiversity conservation strategies. The project analysed the connection between the degree of local participation in decision-making regarding protected areas and land-use change in southeast Mexico and broader regional landscapes. It also explored the relationship between local participation, local use of natural resources, life strategies and the environmental knowledge, perceptions and values of local people in the study areas.

Building local capacity to manage community conserved areas in Oaxaca, Mexico (2008-2010)

This project sought to strengthen the capacity of Indigenous Chinantec communities and collaborating researchers to document and manage biological resources while promoting traditional ecological knowledge and practice. It included training sessions on sustainable forest management, participatory video and scientific tourism. We also provided technical expertise and equipment for a community natural history museum and biological station and established participatory community biodiversity registers that document biological resources of potential economic value. The project also supported communities’ understanding of the impacts of the laws and policies related to community conservation initiatives.

Photo by Thor Morales

Farmer- to-farmer exchange in the Tlatepusco and Otate river basin, Oaxaca, Mexico (2007)

Since 2004, a major portion of Santiago Tlatepusco, San Pedro Tlatepusco and Nopalera del Rosario territories have been certified as Voluntary Conserved Areas – that is: legally-recognised community territories. This project supported the three Chinantec communities to ensure their conservation objectives were met whilst improving the management of sustainable cash crops and to help them build governing institutions to market and manage production. We organised knowledge and practice exchanges with farmers and cooperative leaders of Cuetzalan, Puebla, who have a successful history of institution-building and sustainable cash crop management practices.