After establishing their own community-conserved area, local people were persuaded to completely ban hunting and gathering in the mountains covering 13,000 has surrounding them. As a result, local men were already forgetting the paths, and presumably, the same was happening with their knowledge about the abundant biodiversity that surrounded them. This experience changed my perception of biodiversity conservation, allowing me to value the importance of the multiple relationships between humans and the environment, as well as to re-consider the negative effects that simplistic approaches to conservation can have over local populations and biodiversity itself.
Since then, I have focused on the importance of local knowledge and structures for decision-making to establish long-lasting and sustainable natural resources management. Working together with people, defining what they want to do and how they want to do it, in a way that respects their perspectives and biodiversity. One of the things I like the most about my job is that I am able to work in amazing landscapes with cultural diversity, listening to what local people have to say and facilitating decisions that have a direct effect on the environment and the local wellbeing. Although this is not always easy and need to develop so many skills still!
Nowadays, I am trying to incorporate wider perspectives on territory and sustainability to support the development of capacities for communities and landowners so that they can make informed management decisions about their lands. In the near future, I would like to be much more involved into bio-cultural conservation, enhancing the dynamic continuity of local crops and the cultural practices related to them in order to contribute to the achievement of food sovereignty and security.
Making “totopos” in La Cristalina, Oaxaca.
Members of the monitoring group in San Antonio, San Miguel Chiamalapa, Oaxaca.