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CHAPTER 1 Community Managed in the Strong Sense of the Phrase: The Community Forest Enterprises of Mexico david barton bray, leticia merino-pérez, and deborah barry This book examines the historical and contemporary experience of community forest management in Mexico from a variety of perspectives.1 As this volume makes clear, the community forest sector in Mexico is large, diverse, and has achieved unusual maturitydoing what communities in the rest of the world are only beginning to explore: the commercial production of timber. In most of the world, community forest management refers to the management of recovering forestlands or non-timber forest products on government lands. The achievement of Mexican communities in the commercial production of timber from common property forests was largely accomplished over the last 30 years, but has roots deep in Mexico’s twentieth-century history. Despite these achievements, the community forest sector in Mexico is still little known outside of Mexico, and insufficiently recognized even within Mexico. It also has many challenges and deficiencies. This volume joins other recent research efforts to begin to address this lack of recognition for an important global model (Bray et al. 2003) and to document and analyze both its achievements and shortcomings. We have here collected a series of articles by established researchers in the field, some presenting new data from research commissioned especially for this book, that examines the phenomenon from historical, policy, economic, ecological, sociological, and political perspectives, frequently in ways that integrate these disciplines. The book also contains accounts by some of the important practitioners from the Mexican nongovernmental organization (NGO) sector, which has been involved in promoting community forestry for over two decades. A few terminological notes are in order. Throughout this book we will refer to community forest management (CFM) as the general phenomenon 4 Introduction, History, and Policy and to community forest enterprises (CFEs) in specific reference to communities that are commercially producing timber with varying levels of integration .2 The Mexican Revolution in the second decade of the twentieth century left a strong mark on land tenure, creating or reinforcing community properties known as ejidos and indigenous or agrarian communities. While there are some differences in origins and governance, both forms establish collective governance of a common territory or property. While these community lands were long defined as held in usufruct from the state, reforms to the Mexican Constitution in 1992 strengthened community ownership of these lands. Unless it is important to distinguish them, the generic term communities will be used to refer to both of the common property community land tenure systems that exist in Mexico, ejidos and agrarian communities, as defined in Mexican agrarian law.3 Individual forest smallholder private properties exist in Mexico, and are probably more important than realized in the forest sector, but are not covered in this book. The Forests of Mexico: Extent, Ecology, and Deforestation According to the 2000–2001 National Forest Inventory, 32.75% of the national territory of Mexico is covered by ‘‘forests and rainforests,’’ corresponding to 63.6 million hectares. Of this, 32.9 million hectares (52% of total forests and rainforests) are temperate zone forests and 30.7 million (48% of the total) are tropical forests, both tropical dry forests and rainforests (INEGI 1997). The temperate pine-oak forests of Mexico cover the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Sierra Madre Oriental, the mountain ranges in western and eastern Mexico, the Volcanic Axis, which joins the two ranges in central Mexico, and the Sierra Madre del Sur along the Pacific coast of Guerrero and Oaxaca. In the south, after breaking at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the mountains rise again in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas and the Mesa de Chiapas in southeastern Mexico. It is on the slopes of the Sierras that Mexico’s pine and oak forests are found, with the greatest number of pine species of any country in the world, some 72 in two major groups (Perry 1991). There are also some 130 species of oak, with both pine and oak having rates of endemism of over 70% (Castilleja 1996). Castilleja (1996) has divided the two principal forest vegetation classi- fications for Mexico—Miranda/Hernández and Rzedowski—into the following classification scheme: Tropical Rainforests (selva alta perrenifolia, Community Managed in the Strong Sense of the Phrase 5 selva alta subperrenifolia, and selva mediana subperrenifolia), Tropical Seasonal Forests (including Tropical Dry Forests), Tropical Montane Forests , and Coniferous and Oak Forests...


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