• John Schelhas Tuskegee University
  • Max J. Pfeffer Cornell University


National park and related forest conservation efforts tend to emanate from core areas of the world and are often imposed on rural people living on forest fringes in the least developed regions of lesser developed countries. We address the social and cultural processes that ensue when center-originating
conservation meets local people with their resource-dependent livelihoods, and how these vary under different circumstances. We examine and compare local people’s environmental and
forest-related values and behaviors, using cultural models, after the establishment of national parks in two countries with very different social and environmental histories—Costa Rica and Honduras.
We find that external cultural models were widely adopted by local people—hegemonic to the extent of structuring even discourse opposing conservation. Local people often expressed environmental values, but used formulaic language that suggested that these values were not well integrated with other aspects of their life and often not motivating. We pay particular attention to relationships between environmental values and livelihood values, and the varying ways that new, local environmental discourses and values emerge that mediate between these often conflicting value spheres.

The recent international increase in national parks is a phenomenon of globalization, and often imposes new conservation practices and environmental values onto local people. While these new national parks have some broad public benefits that can be thought of as global, e.g. their role in preventing biodiversity loss and climate change, it is also true that few concrete benefits accrue to local people and that parks often impose great costs on local people in the form of lost land, diminished access to resources, and diminished autonomy as national governments and international
organizations extend into local life in new ways.
These changes have serious repercussions for local people, often threatening their livelihoods and well-being in significant ways. Yet our results suggest that local people may be willing to work with park managers to co-inhabit landscapes when park managers are able to accommodate local livelihood needs.

Keywords: National parks, Central America, Costa Rica, Honduras, forest conservation

Los parques nacionales y otros esfuerzos de conservación forestal tienden a surgir en las principales áreas núcleo del mundo, y por lo general son impuestos a los pobladores de espacios rurales que habitan franjas forestales de los países en vías de desarrollo.
Este artículo se enfoca en los procesos sociales y culturales que se originan a partir de la imposición de estas áreas de conservación y sobre cómo se ve afectada la subsistencia de los pobladores que dependen de los recursos naturales de dichas áreas. También se evalúan y comparan los valores y comportamientos relacionados con el ambiente, percibidos por los pobladores con el establecimiento de parques nacionales, en dos países con historias sociales y ambientales muy diferentes como lo son Costa Rica y Honduras; para lo cual se utilizaron modelos culturales. Al respecto, se encontró que varios modelos culturales externos, que fueron ampliamente adoptados por los pobladores locales, han llegado a ser hegemónicos, afectando la conservación. Los habitantes del lugar estaban disconformes con respecto a los nuevos valores ambientales, porque estos, por un lado, no estaban adecuadamente integrados con otros aspectos de su vida, y por la escasa motivación en materia de conservación ambiental.
De esta forma, se resalta la relación entre los valores ambientales y los valores de sus forma de vida;
entre las nuevas formas de ruptura y los valores emergentes que median entre la esfera de valores conflictivos.
El reciente aumento internacional de parques naciones es un fenómeno de globalización, y en consecuencia, impone nuevas prácticas de conservación y valores ambientales a los habitantes de estas localidades. Mientras estos nuevos parques nacionales generan algunas ventaja públicas, que pueden ser pensadas como globales (p.ej. su papel en la prevención de la pérdida de diversidad biológica y el cambio de clima), también ocasionan escasos beneficios para las comunidades, al imponer elevados costos para los pobladores locales como lo son: la pérdida de tierras, la disminución en el acceso a los recursos y la reducción de la autonomía, ya sea ante el gobierno nacional u organizaciones internaciones que extienden sus acciones políticas a la vida local en todas sus nuevas formas. Estos cambios repercuten drásticamente en los habitantes del lugar, lo cual a menudo amenaza, en general, el sustento y el bienestar, de modo significativo.
Los resultados sugieren que los habitantes del lugar podrían estar dispuestos a trabajar con los gerentes del parque para co-habitar paisajes cuando éstos sean capaces de priorizar las necesidades de sobrevivencia de las formas de vida de los habitantes.

Palabras clave: parques nacionales, América Central, Costa Rica, conservación forestal

Biografía del autor

John Schelhas, Tuskegee University
Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 112 Campbell, Hall, Tuskegee University.
Max J. Pfeffer, Cornell University
Department of Development Sociology, Cornell University, 133 Warren Hall, Ithaca, NY.


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Cómo citar
Schelhas, J., & Pfeffer, M. J. (1). WHEN GLOBAL CONSERVATION MEETS LOCAL LIVELIHOODS: PEOPLE AND PARKS IN CENTRAL AMERICA. Revista Geográfica De América Central, 2(45), 77-101. Recuperado a partir de https://www.revistas.una.ac.cr/index.php/geografica/article/view/98
Estudios de Caso (Evaluados por pares)