(De-)Constructing conservation corridors in human landscapes of the Mesoamerican dry tropics

Authors: Ruchi Patel*, Pennsylvania State University
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Landscape, Latin America
Keywords: biological corridor, conservation and development, Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, El Salvador
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Buchanan, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In global conservation, biological corridors have been designed and promoted widely as tools to achieve both biodiversity conservation and sustainable human development. As the most densely populated country in Central America lying at the heart of the Mesoamerican biodiversity hotspot, El Salvador is a unique case study for corridors because of its rich biodiversity and highly human-modified landscape. With the expansion of urban and agricultural land uses and increasing pressures on existing natural habitats, corridors have been adopted into the country’s conservation agenda on national and regional scales, drawing from legacies of the former multinational Mesoamerican Biological Corridor project. Within this context, my research examines historic and present discourses and design of corridors in El Salvador in an attempt to deconstruct the motivations, priorities, and challenges behind this particular model of integrated conservation and development. Through interviews with professionals from various sectors and analysis of policy and planning documentation, my research suggests a discourse of corridors constructed around ideal visions of landscape connectivity through community-based and biodiversity-friendly land use practices. However, despite recognition of the social and ecological potential of corridors, as well as several well-funded proposals, implementation of corridors has been largely ineffective on the ground. In elucidating challenges to adoption of corridors as a model of conservation and development in practice, my research seeks to inform future corridor policy and programs in El Salvador as well as the greater Mesoamerican region.

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