Local and multi-scale governance of Dendroctonus sp. bark beetle outbreaks in community forest of southern Mexico
The outbreaks of Dendroctonus sp. bark beetles have increased tree mortality, affected environmental services, and presented associated risks to pine forest ecosystems throughout North American, including Mexico. The state of Oaxaca (in Southern Mexico) is among the top ten forestry states, and it has more than 85% of forest land under common property regime (here called, community forests). People from community forests have the legal right to forest resources, but also the responsibility to maintain forest health. Since 2003, Mexico’s General Law on Sustainable Forestry Development establishes procedures in which people from community forests, government agencies and other stakeholders collaborate to address bark beetle outbreaks. However, the role that local people play and the process to manage bark beetle outbreaks in the community forest of Oaxaca has not been well documented. Our investigation focused on recognizing the social participation (local and external) in community forests that are affected by bark beetle outbreaks. We reviewed official forest health information from the National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR: annual diagnostic, regional forest maps, and statewide aerial detection data, and administrative processes to promote and implement forest sanitation). From 2013-2014, we participated in technical workshops hosted by State Council of Forest Sanitation, conducted field observations, and applied informal and semi-structured interviews to local and external actors.
In the community forests of Oaxaca, local actors are crucial in the intricate multi-actor process outlined for managing bark beetle outbreaks and maintaining forest health. We recognized two models that illustrate the role and level of participation that community forests have in Dendroctonus sp bark beetle management: 1) Communities where management and forest health measures are led by strong local governance and local people (monitoring, authorization and interventions), with limited external funds or institutional support. 2) Communities where management depends on multi-scale governance. People from community forests resort to federal and state agencies in order to obtain technical, institutional and financial support, which facilitate local monitoring, training, interventions, verification, authorization and report. Further understanding of the role of local actors and government agencies may improve the process that community forests utilize to successfully manage bark beetle outbreaks and inform public policies and programs for more efficient forest sanitation treatments in community forests. Because bark beetle outbreaks are expected to increase, there is a need to promote increased local participation and stronger external support so community forests can effectively manage bark beetle outbreaks in temperate forest.