The University of Arizona

Conservation and conflict: the intensification of property rights disputes under market-based conservation in Chiapas, México

Kate Ervine


This article examines the implementation of the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) MexicoMesoamerican Biological Corridor in the Lacandón Jungle of Chiapas, México. As an Integrated Conservation and Development Project, the Corridor is rooted in the GEF’s "universal blueprint", a program of biodiversity marketization as a simultaneous conservation and poverty reduction strategy. It is argued that the blueprint, whose framework both assumes and demands clearly delineated property rights as the vehicle for determining payments for the preservation of ecosystem services, denied the existence of Chiapas' historic conflict over land, thereby adding a new layer to it. The increasing ubiquity of marketbased conservation strategies such as the Corridor may lead to or exacerbate conflicts over land and resources. Outcomes tend to favour more powerfully-situated local actors. Such projects, rather than solving poverty and inequality, may lead to new forms of marginalization, while undermining conservation goals.

Keywords: Global Environment Facility, Mexico-Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, market-based conservation, land tenure conflict.

Full Text: