The political ecology of a Lenca Indian community in Honduras: Communal forests, state policy, and processes of transformation
AuthorTucker, Catherine May, 1961-
AdvisorSheridan, Thomas E.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe dissertation investigates communal forest use and management in the municipio (county) of La Campa, Honduras, and the multi-leveled interrelationships that influence ongoing transformations in the forests. The work takes a political ecology perspective, thus it evaluates the interrelationships between local, national and international processes that have shaped historical and current forest and land use patterns in the municipio. State policies have constituted an important factor in encouraging forms of forest management; the communitarian tradition imposed on Lenca Indian communities by the Spaniards following the Conquest provided a context which the people adapted to their own situation and propagated into recent years. Low population density, a relatively homogeneous populace, the pattern of subsistence agriculture, limited state interference and minimal interaction with national markets apparently contributed to the viability of common property management and the survival of forests into the present. The local context has changed in recent decades with a growing population, increased market involvement, socioeconomic differentiation, and state policies that undermine communal forms of forest management. Domination by the state forestry development institution (COHDEFOR) during the 1970s and 1980s led to logging, forest degradation, and disruption of traditional forms of forest management. A majority of the population eventually organized to oust COHDEFOR and prohibit market-oriented timber exploitation within the municipio, but communal forest management has suffered a number of shortcomings in the aftermath of COHDEFOR's departure. At present, the situation indicates an unsustainable level of forest exploitation and a gradual transformation of communal forests into private holdings. New national legislation regarding agriculture and forestry encourages the privatization of communal lands, while international market forces and economic development initiatives favor the production of agricultural export crops, such as coffee. The analysis considers the factors and interrelationships that inhibit sustainable use of communal forests in La Campa; it also recognizes the benefits and difficulties that relate to common property forest management within the current context.
Degree ProgramGraduate College