Negotiating Conservation: Peasants and Forest Conversion in the Buffer Zone of the Indio-Maiz Reserve, Nicaragua

EPA Grant Number: U915406
Title: Negotiating Conservation: Peasants and Forest Conversion in the Buffer Zone of the Indio-Maiz Reserve, Nicaragua
Investigators: Larson, Anne
Institution: University of California - Berkeley
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: September 1, 1998 through August 1, 2001
Project Amount: $79,020
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Social Sciences , Environmental Justice , Academic Fellowships


The objective of this research project is to understand how and why some peasant colonists organize to conserve forest resources in colonization areas where the majority of peasants convert forest to agriculture and pasture. This research project seeks a balance between understanding structural constraints and local agency, and between economic and a broader social analysis of meanings, conflict, and negotiation.


I will use a political ecology approach, combining historical and multiscale analysis grounded in the in-depth study of two grassroots organizations. The primary research tools are the review of historical, policy, and organizational documents, and interviews with multiple actors. The project consists of case studies of men and women from 30 households participating in 1 of 2 peasant organizations promoting forest conservation. In cases where many people choose not to join the organization, the research includes a community census. The case studies analyze who joins and why, their relationship with promoting organizations, and their goals and understanding of "forest conservation." Interviews with prominent projects and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the review of government documents and the media allow for an examination of past and current discourses and practices regarding the concepts of development, the role of the peasantry in development and forest conversion, environmental protection, and the role of the forest in development. The current institutional framework of the two relevant municipalities has been analyzed through interviews with government, timber industry, NGOs, and peasant leaders. The history of Rio San Juan provides the basis for understanding its symbolic and political importance to different actors today.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, community based, conservation, social science, Latin America, peasants, development, tropical deforestation, political ecology, nongovernmental organizations, NGOs, economics, forest conservation, Nicaraugua., RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, Forestry, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Habitat, decision-making, Ecology and Ecosystems, International, Sociology, Social Science, Economics & Decision Making, Environmental History, forest conservation decisions, forest reources, Nicaraguan peasants, forestry conservation, Indio-Maiz Reserve, Nicaragua, peasants and forest conservation, peasant colonists, negotiating conservation, political ecology, forest conservation

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1999
  • 2000
  • Final