Nature Conservation in Protected Areas of Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert

Authors: Xochizeltzin Castaneda Camacho*, The University of Texas at Austin
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Land Use and Land Cover Change, Arid Regions
Keywords: Nature conservation, Natural Protected Areas, Chihuahuan Desert, biodiversity, Mexico
Session Type: Paper
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Protected Areas play a major role in terms of nature conservation in arid lands. However, social, economic and political pressures pose challenges to conservation efforts. This study examines in three Protected Areas located in the Chihuahuan Desert of northern Mexico. These areas are home to numerous endemic plant and animal species at risk status, as well as being habitats for migratory birds of North America. The Chihuahuan bioregion is expected to be one of the most affected by climate change. Studies by social scientists are, therefore, necessary to understand the nuances of human impacts. In this work, I contextualize the importance of the study sites on the global scale and their local contrasting landscapes. Using data I collected in the field, I point out the main human- environment conflicts as well as the most influential drivers of habitat loss. Methodologically, I combine biophysical and social variables, using both quantitative and qualitative methods and geospatial technologies to analyze forest cover change and its effects on inhabitants. Preliminary conclusions are that land ownership and the legal status (federal or state) of the Protected Areas are influential conditions that shape the struggle to access and maintain natural resources.

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