Forest Transitions in Mexico: Institutions and Forests in a Globalized Countryside
Forest-transition theory suggests that economic development eventually leads to forest recovery, but there is great uncertainty about the existence, the characteristics, and the mechanisms of forest transitions that might be occurring under current socioeconomic conditions. A case study in a small region of highland Mexico finds agricultural abandonment and forest regeneration, but also forest degradation due to woodcutting. A discussion locates those findings in the international political economy of agriculture and emigration in Mexico, which are substantially different from the conditions associated with forest recovery in developed countries. Although regional forest transitions are possible in marginal agricultural areas such as that studied here, their environmental implications depend on the evolution of social institutions coordinating rural people's environmental actions.