Territorial struggles over the commons in a forest frontier: participatory mapping insights into community-based forestry

Authors: Geronimo Barrera*, University of Texas - Austin
Topics: Cartography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Latin America
Keywords: participatory mapping, political ecology, commons, conservation, resource frontier
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 22
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This presentation discusses the outcomes from participatory mapping workshops on community-based forestry programs where participants debated the territorial conflicts that have emerged over the use of land commons and forest elements in Chatino indigenous and peasant communities in Oaxaca, Mexico. Multiple commodification processes transformed these communities’ territory into a resource frontier which current iteration rest in the management of the forest through several programs that include carbon offsetting and payment for environmental services. I explore two related issues addressed by community members through the mapmaking process: commons enclosure and assessment of the programs. On the first, I discuss the impacts of forestry programs highlighted by participants over the common lands under forest management. Particularly, I show how territorial configurations are re-imagined resulting in the envision of renewed spatial organization after the carbon offsetting program established new limits to forest commons use. I argue that commons are being reworked facing not only environmental programs restrictions but also enclosure by local inhabitants as a means to secure livelihoods facing uncertain conditions. Secondly, I reflect on gender, race, and language differences and inequalities that unfold through the mapmaking process. I focus on the struggles by community members to access knowledge about the forest and its management defined by contrasting understandings of the forest and commons. I argue the process of mapmaking sheds light on the multiplicity underlying commons conflict intersected by sedimented inequalities in the communities that shape environmental programs performance.

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