Sustainability transitions in the Selva Maya

Mapping the policy landscape and livelihood responses

GCRF Funding Cycle

Principal Investigator
Rehema White

Geography & Sustainable Development

ODA countries

Sustainable Development Goals
Goal 12, Goal 15

Latin America is seeking to reduce urbanisation by maintaining and developing feasible livelihood options in rural areas. A complex, shifting and often incoherent policy context has often lacked the implementation rigor to ensure that the most marginalised households benefit. Our aims were to explore the policy landscape, understand the lived experiences of campesinos and ranchers around the Selva Maya in Calakmul, Mexico, and offer recommendations for policy coherence to facilitate sustainable development.

Sixty-five interviews across 15 communities with additional insights from programme technicians, local government and Calakmul Biosphere Reserve revealed complex interactions between poverty, agriculture, conservation and tourism. There was migration back to rural areas because of the new ‘Sembrando vida’ programme and Covid-19 induced redundancies. Remote sensing illustrated a decline in forest cover and quality around the Reserve since 2001, with some deforestation in 2019 associated with new agricultural activity. Our research found that climate change via droughts, floods and unpredictability is reducing yields and that traditional knowledge is being negated or lost in some areas. It was concluded that the state subsidies have supplemented many livelihoods at a time of crisis, but simultaneously impede some adaption to socio-environmental changes and development of new livelihood strategies and inhibit biodiversity conservation.