ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

Documenting how socio-ecosystem conservation knowledge and practice arise and are modified are issues of ethnobiological interest. In the Barranca de Metztitlán Biosphere Reserve (RBBM), plant nurseries, some of which were created as Environmental Management Units (UMAs), have been established to grow and conserve cacti. This paper describes these nurseries, their role in cactus conservation, and the benefits and limitations for the people managing them. The nurseries have helped decrease illegal traffic in cacti and have enabled ex situ conservation of 22 cacti species. Cactus management has changed from extraction to cultivation, as a result of the knowledge and actions of multiple actors. The main limitation is marketing, a recurring problem for non-timber forest products (NTFP). Greater coordination among stakeholders is recommended, such as involvement by non-governmental organizations to improve their probability of success, as well as learning from the experience of other cactus UMAs. Improving the market for cacti is an issue that needs an immediate solution; otherwise conservation efforts could relapse.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Research Communicaon
The current conservation paradigm no longer
views the ecosystem and human beings as separate,
but rather acknowledges the fundamental role of
humans in socio-ecosystem management and conser-
vation. Socio-ecosystems are complex systems whose
proper management requires participative multiscale
schemes and whose basic goal is both conservation
and development through multicentric decision
making (Berkes 2003; Berkes and Turner 2006;
Campbell and Vainio 2003). As a consequence, the
concept of protected areas has changed over time.
Once they were zones from which local residents
were removed, supposedly to prevent environmental
degradation, but now there are protected areas where
the participation of the people who live there is
considered of vital importance.
Including humans in natural protected areas has
given rise to the Biosphere Reserve model promoted
by UNESCO (UNESCO 2013). The purpose of this
model is to enable sustainable development based on
local community efforts in protected areas. In Mexico,
current environmental law based on the Convention
on Biological Diversity and other precedents provides
for Biosphere Reserves as one of several types of
An ethnobiological issue of current interest is that of
documenting how knowledge and sustainable
conservation practices arise, are maintained, and/or
are modified (Turner and Berkes 2006), especially in
rural and indigenous villages (Berkes and Turner
2006). An understanding of these issues is a key part
of extending sustainable practices to new areas,
bringing together stakeholders who can integrate
comprehensive conservation actions into existing
Many researchers have concluded that local
knowledge is a key element for helping solve complex
environmental problems (Bowler 2000; Funtowicz
and Marchi 2003) because indigenous and peasant
communities hold a profound fount of accumulated
knowledge based on the experiences of people who
have been in close relationships with nature for
millenia (Berkes and Turner 2006; Boege 2010; Leff
2005; Toledo 2002). Only recently has the scientific
community begun to understand the importance of
ancestral wisdom and shared responsibility (Anta
Fonseca et al. 2008; Berkes and Turner 2006).
Cactus Nurseries and Conservaon in a Biosphere Reserve in
María T. Pulido* and Consuelo Cuevas-Cardona
Authors’ address: Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo. Instuto de Ciencias Básicas e Ingenierías. Centro de
Invesgaciones Biológicas. Km 4.5 Carretera Pachuca-Tulancingo. Pachuca, Hidalgo, Código Postal 42184, México.
* Corresponding author:
Received: March 4, 2013 Volume: 4:96-104
Published: September 3, 2013 © 2013 Society of Ethnobiology
Abstract: Documenng how socio-ecosystem conservaon knowledge and pracce arise and are modied are issues of
ethnobiological interest. In the Barranca de Metztlán Biosphere Reserve (RBBM), plant nurseries, some of which were
created as Environmental Management Units (UMAs), have been established to grow and conserve cac. This paper
describes these nurseries, their role in cactus conservaon, and the benets and limitaons for the people managing them.
The nurseries have helped decrease illegal trac in cac and have enabled ex situ conservaon of 22 cac species. Cactus
management has changed from extracon to culvaon, as a result of the knowledge and acons of mulple actors. The
main limitaon is markeng, a recurring problem for non-mber forest products (NTFP). Greater coordinaon among
stakeholders is recommended, such as involvement by non-governmental organizaons to improve their probability of
success, as well as learning from the experience of other cactus UMAs. Improving the market for cac is an issue that needs
an immediate soluon; otherwise conservaon eorts could relapse.
Keywords: NTFP, Metztlán Canyon, cac, tradional wisdom, UMAs
Research Communicaon
natural protected areas (ANP for its name in Spanish)
under federal jurisdiction.
In addition to ANPs, Mexico has Management
Units for Wildlife Conservation (UMA in Spanish),
that are currently the main legal instrument for
achieving sustainable use of wild resources. These are
legally constituted areas in which a management plan
is carried out to conserve habitat and maintain wild
populations for a variety of goals including sustainable
use, teaching, and restoration. Widely accepted since
they were first created in 1995, by 2008 they covered
15% of Mexico’s land area, more than the total ANP
land area in Mexico, resulting in a large potential
impact on biodiversity conservation. Despite their
importance in terms of land area, it is recognized that
there must be more careful follow up of management
plans and improved monitoring systems to obtain
more detailed information about the impact of UMAs
on the conservation of wildlife and nature (Anta
Fonseca et al. 2008; Robles de Benito 2009).
Barranca de Metztitlán Biosphere Reserve
(RBBM) is one of the ANPs in which UMAs have
been established. It is a natural protected area rich in
cactus species, especially endemic species, that was
ransacked for a considerable period. The extracted
plants were sold mainly in overseas markets. Scientists
such as Helia Bravo (1978) began to draw attention to
the uncontrolled removal of these plants. Residents
began to organize, first to form squads of guards and
eventually to lobby to have the biosphere reserve
established (Cuevas-Cardona et al. 2008). The RBBM
is a 2,090,512 hectare area created in November 2000
that includes parts of the municipios (county equiva-
lents) of Acatlán, Atotonilco el Grande, Huasca,
Eloxochitlán, Metztitlán, San Agustín Metzquititlán,
and Zacualtipán in the state of Hidalgo. It includes
arid tropical scrub, tropical deciduous forest, submon-
tane scrub, pine forest, pasture, and riparian woodland
ecosytems (CONANP 2003). The arid tropical scrub
vegetation includes some sixty species of cactus,
among which Echinocactus platyacanthus Link & Otto
Cactaceae, Cephalocereus senilis (Haw.) Pfeiff. Cactaceae,
and Stenocereus marginatus (DC.) A. Berger & Buxb.
Cactaceae are notable.
In the RBBM, the federal agency in charge of
conservation (CONANP) has supported plant
nurseries as an example of an activity that both utilizes
resources and promotes conservation. The underlying
logic is that raising species that can be marketed as
well as used for reforestation and/or restoration
reduces the likelihood that these species will be
plundered from their natural environment. However,
this strategy must be analyzed in depth in the context
of the framework of non-timber forest products
(NTFP), such as these cacti. Recent comparative
analysis on NTFP indicate that marketing is the key
factor for their sustainable use, but also the most
difficult to achieve (Marshall, Schreckenberg, and
Newton 2006; Pulido et al. 2010). The most frequent
error of many conservation and development projects
in the past has been to conduct studies to ensure
biologically sustainable production of the product
while assuming unlimited market demand, which is
often not the case; this has led to failure.
This paper analyzes the operation of several
cactus nurseries in the RBBM in the context of how
knowledge and conservation practices begin and are
maintained or modified as a result of complex
interactions between institutional, local, and external
agents, and whether the cactus nursery is a sustainable
alternative. The objectives of this study are to: a)
analyze the emergence and organization of nurseries
and their achievements and limitations in the opinions
of their managers; b) document how conservation and
knowledge practices have been generated; c) analyze
the effect of the nurseries on cactus conservation, and
evaluate whether nurseries have been able to decrease
illicit removal of cacti. Using an ethnobiology ap-
proach, this case study seeks to contribute to the
relationship between conservation and applied
Figure 1. The Metztlán Landscape. Xeric vegetaon
predominates in the mountains, while the Metztlán
town is located in the at, with The Augusnian Ex Con-
vento de los Santos Reyes, built in the XVI century , in
the background.
Research Communicaon
In December, 2010, we visited the administrative
offices of the reserve and interviewed two officials,
asking them about the operation of the UMAs, the
support they have received from the reserve, and their
impact on cactus conservation in the region. They
explained that three of the nurseries are registered
UMAs (La Joya, Xochinanahual, and Acalometlán)
and one is not. The four were included in this study to
compare the responses given by people involved in
cactus UMAs, and by people who ransacked cactus in
the past. The four nurseries were visited in December
2010 and January 2011, and five semi-structured
interviews with the managers were conducted. The
interviews were one to two hours long, and each
included a tour of the respective nursery.
The topics covered in each interview included: 1)
origin of the nursery, changes in personnel and
organization; 2) contribution of each person involved
in generating and changing cactus conservation
knowledge and practices; 3) cactus species; 4) achieve-
ments and limitations; 5) perception of the impact of
the nursery on cactus extraction. The perceptions of
local residents collected in the interviews were
compared to identify patterns and, where possible,
included in the comparisons to bibliographic data and
official statistics.
Emergence, Organization, Achievements and
Limitations of the Cactus Nurseries
Biosphere reserve officials state that in 2002, the
reserve began to promote the establishment of UMAs
to produce cacti as a sustainable alternative to
incorporating the area as an ANP. As a result, three
UMAs were legally constituted, while several others,
such as the San Cristobal nursery, have not yet been
legally established.
At all three UMAs, the nursery managers reported
support from the reserve administration to attend
courses in production methods, cactus care and
germination, and marketing. The administration also
put them in touch with the National Forestry Com-
mission (CONAFOR), which supports market
research and courses in nationwide marketing. The
following section describes the founding of the three
UMAs and the San Cristobal nursery, and their
achievements and limitations.
La Joya
La Joya nursery is managed by Mr. Baena (Figure 3), a
farmer and construction worker by profession. The
biosphere reserve officials invited him to organize the
nursery and supported him in starting it. The eight
people who started the nursery provided the labor
while the reserve provided building materials and
tools. However, six of the original participants lost
interest because there were no immediate earnings or
quick profit. Although this nursery is located in a
remote village, they have sold plants to buyers from
Xochimilco and Morelos. They met the buyers at one
of the marketing courses organized by the reserve
The Florycactus nursery (Figure 4) is part of the
Xochinanahual UMA. It was started by two agricul-
tural engineers, Acosta and Oaxaca. They invited
people in their neighborhood of Tepeyac to start the
nursery, and persuaded the community to donate the
land for it. Mr. Oaxaca also designed the management
plan. The group began with 50 people, mostly women,
although in 2003 the nursery was legally constituted
with 18 people. Currently there are only 12 members.
Since committee work was not valued, they decided
that each member would serve as administrator for
one month. The members are now all trained to do all
the jobs at the nursery. Their duties include working
in the nursery two days a month and attending
monthly meetings where the members analyze
problems and consider new points of view.
The nursery was formed for the purpose of
preserving the cacti. The income it generates does not
support any of the members. All have other jobs:
shopkeepers or construction workers, and several are
Figure 2. Hundreds of C. senilis propagated by seeds in
El Viejo Cactus nursery.
Research Communicaon
Their main challenge included buying a vehicle to
take the plants to market. The main accomplishments
include: a) good sales (10,000 to 22,000 pesos per
month); b) attending trade fairs outside their region
(the nursery workers have traveled to Mexico City,
Uruapan, Guadalajara and Cuernavaca); c) carrying
out environmental education; d) selling cacti for
reforestation to other UMAs (including the distant
Cuatrocienegas); e) serving as an example of organiza-
tion for other UMAs; f) teaching cactus propagation
to other UMAs; g) using profits to produce worm
compost for cacti.
El Viejo Cactus
El Viejo Cactus (see Figure 2) is part of the UMA
Acalometlán, it is managed by Valderrama and
Sánchez. Sánchez had heard about the projects
proposed by the management of the reserve, was
interested in forming a UMA, and invited Valderrama,
who was working in the United States at the time. It
was started by six partners with four currently
remaining. The families of two partners make a living
from the nursery, although income from cactus sales
is supplemented from the sale of flower pots (an
innovative product they create from local materials)
and two stores. The site has the advantage of being
located by the side of the road, so it is seen by people
traveling by.
The accomplishments of this UMA include: a)
generating a source of local employment (reducing
emigration); b) helping sell plants from other, more
remote nurseries; c) environmental education for
young people; d) conserving cacti. They state that
creating the reserve and promoting nurseries has
increased care for cacti and decreased extraction,
which has helped natural regeneration. Limitations
mentioned are that their website is very basic and they
do not have a telephone number, which impedes their
access to the non-local markets in the rest of Mexico.
San Cristobal
Three partners began the San Cristobal nursery of
which two remain, but they closed it because it was
not profitable. They were never incorporated as a
UMA. They state that they receive much less support
from the reserve than other nurseries. The plants are
still there but receive only minimal care. The person
who was in charge of the nursery, Mr. Flores, is now
elderly and his sons need to do other work.
The Flores family spent several years selling wild
cacti to foreigners. According to his sons, Mr. Flores
was, “the most knowledgeable person about cacti in
this region.” They say that Japanese, Germans, and
Americans came to Metztitlán with trucks to take
away cacti. The brothers say that they did not only sell
plants, but for a time they also sold seeds. In three
months, four people working together managed to
collect some 2 to 3 kilos of seed from wild cacti. The
main achievements have been to teach bioreserve
officials about cactus management, while the basic
limitation has been the low level of sales.
From the officials’ point of view, legal cactus
sales are a good economic option, but the main
limitation is the low level of business, made worse by
the lack of organization and disputes between the
managers. They consider that factors such as distrust
between the managers have held the nursery back.
Conservation Knowledge and Practices
Various stakeholders have influenced the generation
of knowledge and practices of cactus conservation at
the local level. A key factor in improved practices has
been the role of government institutions CONAFOR
and CONANP (National Commission of Natural
Protected Areas). Another key factor, as several
managers stated, is their knowledge of cactus propa-
gation, a combination of what they have learned at
workshops, and their own daily experiments which
they apply to improve their methods. Others mention
exchanges of knowledge with UMA managers. The
officials report that these training workshops were
delivered by academic technicians from the National
University of Mexico and state universities, although
Figure 3. Mr. Baena in La Joya nursery with small Cepha-
loceros senilis propagated by seeds in front of him.
Research Communicaon
these academics have played only a small role.
According to the Flores brothers (San Cristobal
nursery), their father taught the bioreserve officials
about cactus management, including the right way to
harvest seed from wild cactithe right time to
extract them, how to determine the viability of the
seed, and the common names of the local cacti. The
Flores brothers would camp in the hills and they were
able to extract quite large cacti, up to a meter and a
half. They were able to do this, they said, because
they knew the area and the plants well. When asked if
they were concerned at the time that harvesting
would finish off the cacti in the region, they said no,
that they rotated their harvesting between different
areas so that the populations would recover. They add
that the more the plants are harvested, the more they
produce, and it does them good to have their seed
removed. Unfortunately, there are no scientific papers
available to confirm this.
The Flores brothers stated that they taught the
biosphere reserve administrators the techniques for
harvesting the seeds of the C. senilis, since these are
difficult to obtain. They told them how and where to
get the seeds, when it is best to extract them, how to
tell whether they are healthy or not and which ones
should be planted. They estimate that a C. senilis that
generates 30 fruits produces 3000 seeds, 100 per
fruit . They need specific amounts of moisture and
heat to germinate. The type of soil is also important;
it must be white or brown, never black. The Flores
brothers explained that these plants “face” north and
that their reproductive structures are always formed
on that side. Interestingly, Vazquez, Terrazas, Arias
(2007) reported that the cephalium (the structure that
gives rise to the fruit) is always on the north side.
Effects of Nurseries on Cactus Conservation and
Decrease in Uncontrolled Extraction
Everyone involved agrees that they have benefited
from the existence of the biosphere reserve, because
they have been able to conserve cacti, while also
creating a source of income. Previously, whole areas
were stripped of plants. Japanese buyers, they say,
came to extract them by the truckload and local
people helped them only as day laborers. Since there
is now a biosphere reserve, the people are more aware
and the cactus populations have been regenerated.
Robbins (2003) suggests that Japan and the United
States have been the most frequent destinations for
illegal export where the volume extracted is only a
small part of what it was in the 1980s.
Like the nursery managers, the bioreserve
managers consider that creating the reserve stopped
much of the illegal extraction. At first, the biosphere
managers formed squads to guard the area around the
clock, to reduce the activity of the groups of cactus
extractors. They halted the activity of some 15 to 20
groups of cactus extractors, and illegal extraction
decreased by 80%. They add that the local residents
now understand that removing cacti is a federal
offence and they report it. Official statistics from the
environmental protection agency Procuraduría
Federal de Protección al Ambiente (PROFEPA) show
that nine cactus seizures have been reported in the
last seven years, with a disturbing increase in 2012
(Table 1).
The positive impact on conservation is not only
reflected in the reduction in uncontrolled extraction,
but also in the role of the nurseries in cactus conser-
vation, because they promote ex situ conservation of
at least 22 species in 11 genera (Table 2). It is notable
that six of the species grown by these nurseries are
listed in the NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010, which
makes their conservation even more important. These
six species are endemic to Mexico, so their conserva-
tion and propagation is one of the successes under the
UMA scheme. There is also considerable ex situ
conservation. Each nursery has permits to grow
some 5,000 to 10,000 individuals of C. senilis.
A critical factor for conservation is the procure-
ment of seeds used at the UMAs. The managers
explain that the UMAs must prove that the seed they
grow was acquired legally. Therefore, “mother plants”
for generating seed are raised at all three UMAs.
However, the seeds of C. senilis which is estimated to
take 70 years to reach reproductive maturity, must be
obtained by sustainable collection in the wild. There
No. of
No. of
No. of
2005 1 8 3
2006 2 12 2
2007 to 2010 0 0 0
2011 2 4 2
2012 4 96* 1
Table 1. Cactus seizures in Hidalgo of E. platyacanthus
parts. PROFEPA 2013)*.
Research Communicaon
are plans to create an UMA to facilitate this.
There are also dissenting opinions about the
reserve; for example, the Flores brothers do not agree
with the establishment of the biosphere reserve in the
region. They complain that there have been prohibi-
tions that do not make sense, which have adversely
affected many residents. For example, in El Palmar, a
very poor village, harvesting palm leaf (used in crafts)
was prohibited. It is not fair, they say. If the bio-
sphere doesn’t let people use the natural resources,
they should give alternatives, but they do not. The
brothers say that they would agree with the existence
of the biosphere reserve if there were justice and
Genus & Species Spanish & English Common Name Category Species Authority
Astrophytum ornatum liendrilla, star cactus Threatened (DC.) Weber ex Bri. Rose
Cephalocereus senilis viejito, old man cactus Threatened (Haw.) Pfei.
Coryphantha octacantha biznaga parda de ocho espinas (DC.) Brion & Rose
Echinocactus grusonii biznaga dorada, golden ball Endangered Hildm.
Echinocactus platyacanthus biznaga gigante, giant barrel cactus Protected Link & Oo
Echinocereus cinerascens tuna de mayo Lem.
Ferocactus glaucescens biznaga azul, blue barrel cactus (DC.) Brion & Rose
Ferocactus histrix biznaga borrachita Protected Lindsay
Ferocactus laspinus biznaga uña de gato, devil’s tongue barrel (Haw.) Brion & Rose
Mammillaria geminispina biznaga de chilitos, twin-spined cactus Haw.
Mammillaria gracilis biznaga grácil, thimble cactus Pfei.
Mammillaria magnimamma volcanes, Mexican pincushion Haw.
Mammillaria schiedeana biznaga de Metztlán Threatened Ehrenb. ex Schltdl.
Mammillaria sempervivi biznaga siempre viva D.C.
Myrllocactus geometrizans garambullo, blue candle (Mart. ex Pfei.) Console.
Neobuxbaumia polylopha órgano dorado, golden saguaro (DC.) Backeb.
Pachycereus weberi órgano blanco, órgano webere (J.M. Coult.) Backeb.
Stenocactus lamellosus cactus estrella
(A. Dietr.) A. Berger ex A.W.
Stenocereus dumoreri órgano cimarrón, candelabra cactus (Scheidw.) Buxb.
Stenocereus marginatus órgano manso, organ pipe cactus (DC.) A. Berger & Buxb.
Table 2. Cactaceae species grown in Metztlán nurseries, showing category of threatened species according to the Mexican
Research Communicaon
fairness for all. Although the palm leaves could be
harvested sustainably, it is difficult for local resi-
dents to obtain permits to do so (Coronel and
Pulido 2011).
The sale of cacti generated the Flores brothers
enough income to make a living, but, they stated,
“the biosphere people got involved and then it was
all over.” Since the biosphere was established, the
Flores brothers had to tell their customers that
plants could no longer be removed, that they no
longer had permission, and that they could be fined
or imprisoned.
The case study presented here suggests that the
RBBM has resulted in a notable change in the use
and management of cactus in the Metiztitlán region
from uncontrolled extraction of wild plants to
cultivation. These opinions expressed by local
residents are corroborated by official data. This
suggests that the nurseries and this ANP are quite
successful from an ecological point of view and
have brought direct and indirect benefits to their
managers. Nevertheless, their success should be
evaluated more thoroughly, since ANPs often do
not improve the quality of life of local residents
(Rodríguez and Bracamonte 2008).
The change in cactus conservation practices in
Metztitlán has been a result of the efforts of the
local population, resident groups, federal agencies,
and other stakeholders. This study shows that
although vertical decision making schemes are
predominant in Mexican conservation, community
based strategies are also incorporated, a trend that
should be encouraged. The challenge is to take local
stakeholders into account not only in execution
phases, but also in analysis, planning and other stages,
with the goal of having them operate autonomously.
Community based conservation, co-management and
decentralized decision making are some of the
desirable aspects of current conservation strategies in
socio-ecosystems (Berkes and Turner 2006; Campbell
and Vainio 2003), which represent a significant
challenge for RBBM.
Current knowledge of cactus management and
propagation is the result of a combination of sources
that include the empirical experience of local resi-
dents, in addition to the efforts of academic techni-
cians and knowledge exchanges between peers. This
knowledge acquisition has taken place over a few
decades, according to the information gathered in this
study, although it surely includes traditional
knowledge acquired over centuries.
The nurseries provide a number of different
benefits, including local jobs that enable nursery
managers to make a living or at least to supplement
their income, and have kept them from emigrating.
The nurseries have provided an opportunity for
personal growth, increased self-esteem, education,
and other important benefits. However, the main
limitation is the marketing issue. Although managers
of the reserve considered doing a market study and
forming a production chain to help them market the
cactus, several of the nursery managers find that it is
difficult to get enough buyers and they also find it
difficult to maintain long term business relationships.
This seems paradoxical considering that there is a
large demand both domestically and internationally
for these cacti, especially the largest ones.
The missing piece of the picture is better coordi-
nation among the efforts made by these stakeholders.
In addition to receiving training on how to grow the
cacti, they need training on how to apply for govern-
ment support and improve their marketing capacity.
NGOs could help create and strengthen these links,
as developing local capacity is often part of the work
they do. For example, the NGO Methodus Consul-
tora has created new markets and improved links
between local residents and potential customers for
edible fungi in Oaxaca, Mexico (see Marshall,
Schreckenberg, and Newton 2006). Although NGOs
are not always a panacea, they are key actors who
often catalyze local processes.
In addition to NGOs, lessons learned about
NTFP show that in some contexts, middlemen can be
Figure 4. Florycactus Nursery.
Research Communicaon
key elements for commercial success, provided that
there are better conditions for parity between
producers and middlemen, and producers are more
united (Marshall, Schreckenberg, and Newton 2006).
Considering this, it is recommended that Metztitlán
enter into the national ornamental plant market,
perhaps with support from cactus cooperatives in the
neighboring state of Puebla, which operate a success-
ful business in the TehuacánCuicatlán region. For
the Metztitlán nursery managers to cooperate, they
will have to overcome critical issues such as mutual
distrust and competition for buyers. The solution to
these problems is more sociological, which in this
context is an inescapable factor for achieving success.
Another recommendation is that RBBM try to
decentralize government support, so that the UMAs
can seek support beyond the local municipal seat.
This includes indigenous people who, although a
minority, are the most needful of support. In addi-
tion, UMAs should not focus on cactus sales alone,
which are intrinsically limited by slow growth, but
should offer environmental education, ecotourism,
and other activities enhanced by the presence of cacti.
Permissions: None declared
Sources of funding: None declared
Conflicts of interest: None declared
References Cited
Anta Fonseca, A., J. Carabias, A. Díaz de León, C.
Illsley, C. López, D. Robinson, E. Escamilla, F.
Edouard, F. Ramírez, L. Merino, M. Chauvet, O.
Ramírez, P. Álvarez, R. Obregón, S. Madrid, S.
Purata, S. Ávila. 2008. Consecuencias de las
Políticas Públicas en el Uso de los Ecosistemas y la
Biodiversidad. In Capital Natural de México, vol. III:
Políticas públicas y perspectivas de sustentabilidad, pp. 214
218. CONABIO, México.
Berkes, F. 2003. Rethinking Community-Based
Conservation. Conservation Biology 18:621-630.
Berkes, F. and N. J. Turner. 2006. Knowledge,
Learning and the Evolution of Conservation
Practice for Social-Ecological System Resilience.
Human Ecology 34:479-478.
Boege, E. 2010. El Patrimonio Biocultural de los Pueblos
Indígenas de México. Instituto Nacional de An-
tropología e Historia/ Comisión Nacional para el
Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas, México.
Bravo, H. 1978. Las Cactáceas de México, Vol. II.
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México,
Bowler, P. 2000. Historia Fontana de las Ciencias
Ambientales. Fondo de Cultura Económica, México.
Campbell, L. M. and A. Vainio. 2003. Participatory
Development and Community-Based Conservation:
Opportunities Missed for Lessons Learned. Human
Ecology 31:417-437.
CONANP. 2003. Programa de Manejo. Reserva de la
Biosfera Barranca de Metztitlán. Comisión Nacional de
Áreas Naturales Protegidas, México.
Coronel, M. and M. T. Pulido. 2011. ¿Es Posible
Conservar y Usar a la Palma Brahea dulcis (Kunth)
Mart. en el Estado de Hidalgo, México? In Manual
de Herramientas Etnobotánicas Relativas a la Conservación
y el Uso Sostenible de los Recursos Vegetales, edited by S.
Lagos, O. L. Sanabria, P. Chacón, R. García, pp 103
110. Red Latinoamericana de Botánica. Chile.
Cuevas-Cardona, C., A. P. Martínez- Falcón and O.
A. Molina-González. 2008. Los Científicos en la
Creación de las Areas Naturales Protegidas del
Estado de Hidalgo. In Estudios Biológicos en las Areas
Naturales del Estado de Hidalgo, edited by G. Pulido
Flores, A. L. López Escamilla and M. T. Pulido
Silva, pp. 717. Universidad Autónoma del Estado
de Hidalgo, Pachuca, México.
Funtowicz, S. and B. de Marchi. 2003. Ciencia
Posnormal, Complejidad Reflexiva y Sustenta-
bilidad. In La Complejidad Ambiental, edited by E.
Leff, pp. 584. Siglo XXI Editores, México.
Leff, E. 2005. Ecología y Capital. Siglo XXI Editores,
Marshall, E., K. Schreckenberg, and A. C. Newton.
2006. Comercialización de Productos Forestales no
Maderables, Factores que Influyen en el Exito. Conclusiones
del Estudio de México y Bolivia e Implicancias Políticas
para los Tomadores de Decisiones. Centro Mundial de
Vigilancia de la Conservación del PNUMA,
Cambridge, UK.
PROFEPA. 2013. Sistema de Solicitudes de Informa-
ción (INFOMEX). Exp
PFPA/5.3/12c.6/000176_13. Folio
1613100017613. Procuraduría Federal de Protección
al Ambiente, Delegación Hidalgo.
Pulido, M. T., M. S. González, P. Hersch, C. Illsley, C.
Research Communicaon
López and F. Ramírez. 2010. Productos Forestales
no Maderables: Consideraciones Sobre su Di-
mensión Económica. In Sistemas Biocognitivos
Tradicionales: Paradigmas en la Conservación Biológica y el
Fortalecimiento Cultural, edited by A. Moreno, M.T.
Pulido, R. Mariaca, R. Valadéz, P. Mejía Correa and
T.V. Gutiérrez, pp. 214218. Universidad Autóno-
ma del Estado de Hidalgo, Asociación Etnobiológi-
ca Mexicana y Sociedad Latinoamericana de
Etnobiología. México.
Rodríguez, G. and A. Bracamonte. 2008. Pertinencia
de las ANP Como Política de Conservación y
Mejoramiento de la Calidad de Vida. Análisis de
Percepción en la Reserva de la Biosfera del Alto
Golfo de California y Delta del Río Colorado.
Estudios Sociales 16:41-72.
Robbins, C. S. 2003. Comercio Espinoso. Comercio y
Conservación de Cactos en el Desierto Chihuahuense.
TRAFFIC North America WWF, Washington D.C.
Robles de Benito, R. 2009. Las Unidades de Manejo para
la Conservación de Vida Silvestre y el Corredor Biológico
Mesoamericano, México. CONABIO, México, D.F.
Toledo, V. M. 2002. Biodiversidad y Pueblos Indios
en México y Centroamérica. Biodiversitas 43:18.
Turner, N. J. and F. Berkes. 2006. Developing
Resource Management and Conservation. Human
Ecology 34:375-478.
UNESCO. 2013. Biosphere Reserves Learning Sites
for Sustainable Development. Available at: http://
reserves/. Accessed on January 10, 2013.
Vázquez, M., T. Terrazas, S. Arias. 2007. Morphology
and Anatomy of the Cephalocereus Columna-Trajani
Cephalium: Why Tilting. Plant Systematics and
Evolution 265:87-99.
María Teresa Pulido Silva has a PhD in Science. Her
areas of research are ethnobotany, non-mber forest
products, and tradional farming systems.
Consuelo Cuevas Cardona has a PhD in Science. His
areas of research are the history of biology in Mexico
and environmental history.
... The problem of obtaining the raw material is due to the difficulty of meeting the requirements of current regulations. For example, when the RBBM was established, the people of the hñä hñü village of El Palmar, which owes its name to the high abundance of B. dulcis, submitted an official letter complaining of legal impediments to the use of the palm, which have not been resolved to date [26]. ...
Full-text available
There have been few studies on the sustainable use of non-timber forest products in arid and semi-arid zones. The palm Brahea dulcis has been one of the most important resources in semi-arid Mesoamerica, since pre-Hispanic times. Currently, some populations grow within protected natural areas, representing both a challenge and an opportunity for local development. This ethnoecological study of B. dulcis in central Mexico aimed to evaluate their uses, harvesting context, and potential for exploitation, in order to give practical advice on their best use and management. Ethnographic and ecological information was obtained in Barranca de Metztitlán Biosphere Reserve and Valle del Mezquital, Mexico. We studied the population structure and density; additionally, we evaluated the rate of leaf production, leaf renewal rate, percent survival of new leaves, the development of reproductive structures and performed a one-year defoliation experiment (involving a control and four treatments including a mix of semiannual and annual frequency of harvest and removal of two new leaves and/or two mature leaves). Twenty uses of the palm were recorded in the study area. Religious/symbolic and handicraft uses are highlighted. The population density of this species was the highest reported for the genus (1244 ± 231.7 ind/ha). The leaf production rate was the highest reported for arborescent palms of the Americas (11.83 ± 0.036 leaves/individual/year). The sexual reproductive cycle was 2.3 years long. A one-year defoliation experiment did not show statistically significant differences. Recommendations include: 1) implement management focused on increasing the abundance and quality of this useful resource in Metztitlán; 2) employ a strategy of focusing on ethnicity and gender in promoting their exploitation; 3) learn from theoretical frameworks of other non timber forest product studies. We propose that Brahea dulcis is the palm with the highest potential for sustainable use in the arid and semi-arid zones of Mexico. The challenge to improving management includes simplifying the legal protection framework, promoting uses and developing a market strategy. Collaborations to share experiences with peasant farmers from Guerrero is recommended. We further recommend the development of a governmental strategy to enhance and reassess this important resource.
Full-text available
Biodiversity loss is a current major environmental problem at a global level. However, given the complexity and interdependency between social-ecological systems, integrated strategies, that combine biodiversity conservation with other environmental and socio-economic goals, are necessary. Biosphere reserves are multifunctional landscapes, designated by UNESCO, that are ideally managed in a participatory way to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. However, despite there are biosphere reserves designated all over the world, their realization has been limited. Research about biosphere reserves’ management effectiveness has been mainly focused in investigating specific processes or only include the perspectives of experts. This work uses a more holistic approach to investigate the factors that are important for the success of biosphere reserves. Building on a systematic literature review of the scientific literature, I found that factors related with biosphere reserves’ management effectiveness can be grouped in 53 subcategories and four main categories – context, inputs, processes and outcomes – that interact at different scales. Relationships between subcategories were analysed using multivariate statistics, and three groups of papers identified, which are associated with the goals of biosphere reserves: biodiversity conservation, sustainable development and capacity building. There were also identified gaps in the literature, which limit a more comprehensive understanding. In order to determine what lessons for the success of biosphere reserves can be drawn from the implementation of grassroot approaches, a multiple case-study research with 35 semi-structured interviews was conducted in the Paul do Boquilobo Biosphere Reserve, the Janas Ecovillage and Minga Multisector Cooperative. The analysis of how the initiatives started, their governance, management and outcomes allowed to conclude that the initiatives represent different sustainability pathways and to draw recommendations to increase the success of the biosphere reserve. This research provides important contributions for the management of social-ecological systems, including the conservation of biodiversity, and for the success of biosphere reserves: (1) at a conceptual level, the multi-dimensional framework developed allows to identify the trade-offs, synergies and conflicts associated with the management of social-ecological systems; (2) recommendations were developed for the implementation of the MAB Programme, the Paul do Boquilobo Biosphere Reserve, Janas Ecovillage and Minga Multisector Cooperative; and (3) a research agenda is proposed, to contribute to advance inquiry about biosphere reserves’ management effectiveness.
Full-text available
Research about biosphere reserves' management effectiveness can contribute to better understanding of the existing gap between the biosphere reserve concept and its implementation. However, there is a limited understanding about where and how research about biosphere reserves' management effectiveness has been conducted, what topics are investigated, and which are the main findings. This study addresses these gaps in the field, building on a systematic literature review of scientific papers. To this end, we investigated characteristics of publications, scope, status and location of biosphere reserves, research methods and management effectiveness. The results indicate that research is conceptually and methodologically diverse, but unevenly distributed. Three groups of papers associated with different goals of biosphere reserves were identified: capacity building, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. In general, each group is associated with different methodological approaches and different regions of the world. The results indicate the importance of scale dynamics and trade-offs between goals, which are advanced as important leverage points for the success of biosphere reserves. Building on the gaps identified in the literature, a research agenda is proposed, focusing on the need to investigate mechanisms for holistic research, outcomes and trade-offs, transformations for social-ecological fit and institutions for integrated management across scales.
Community nurseries within natural protected areas (NPAs) represent an attractive option to link biodiversity conservation with socioeconomic development, yet their functioning lacks proper assessment. Here, we analyse the national context of community nurseries in Mexican NPAs and suggest a specific framework to evaluate their viability. First, we examine the impact of a major governmental funding programme on these projects. Next, we conduct a case study in a focal nursery to identify challenges faced by its operation. Despite the large number of community nurseries funded by the programme, current performance indicators are not suitable to assess their viability. In turn, the case study reveals this nursery’s partial success, with a clear contribution to social development but a limited impact on economic improvement and vegetation conservation. Regardless of the characteristics of individual community nurseries, we suggest a framework that is potentially useful for evaluating community nursery viability, which enables agencies to detect problems, find solutions and use resources efficiently, while balancing biodiversity conservation and development.
Full-text available
At numerous international policy forums, governments from a wide range of countries have made commitments to supporting community engagement as part of their efforts to tackling international illegal wildlife trade (IWT). Despite this, the major focus of anti‐IWT strategies to date has been on law enforcement. There is no blueprint approach to community engagement and thus uncertainty on the part of the designers and implementers of initiatives intended to tackle IWT as to how best to proceed. In this paper we provide a synthesis of existing approaches to community engagement to tackle international IWT and review the evidence on their effectiveness. The synthesis illustrates the wide range of different community engagement approaches that have been utilized to date and could be explored by others. But it also highlights the lack of regular, robust monitoring of such initiatives. The dearth of evidence on effectiveness of community‐based strategies to tackle IWT may not be any worse than the evidence on effectiveness of other approaches. Nevertheless, it presents a major conceptual and technical barrier to the uptake of community engagement approaches as well as hampering efforts to encourage national governments to implement the commitments they made through the high‐level policy forums.
Full-text available
Resumen Las políticas históricas de uso de la biodiversidad nacional no han favorecido su conservación ni uso sustentable; tampoco lograron el bienestar social. Sin embargo, en las últimas décadas se han establecido nuevas políticas que incluyen criterios ambientales con las cuales es posible hacer compatibles el desarrollo y el bienestar social, al tiempo de aprovechar el potencial productivo que ofrece el capital natural del país. En este capítulo se hace referencia a los cambios ocurridos en el periodo que transcurre desde la etapa posrevolucionaria hasta nuestros días.
Full-text available
Essay on wildlife management within the areas included in the Mexican portion of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. Analyzes the situation of wildlife management units in the southeastern states of Mexico.
Full-text available
This paper traces the evolution as well as key elements, and provides examples of implementation of participatory development and community-based conservation, two concepts that resemble distant cousins in the intersecting worlds of development assistance and environmental conservation. The paper examines the connections between the concepts, the implications of participatory development for community-based conservation, and the reasons for the differences in their conceptualization and implementation. The paper is based on a review of the literature in both fields and on the authors' research and experience with participatory development and community-based conservation. Several keys to understanding the disconnection between the concepts emerge; intellectual and pragmatic origins of and impetus for the concepts, the expertise and interests of their promoters, and the differing emphasis on participation as means versus end. Results may inform our understandings of why many participatory approaches to conservation have failed to achieve meaningful participation in practice.
Full-text available
The morphology and anatomy of the Cephalocereus columna-trajani flowering region was described and compared with data on other species. The vegetative and reproductive regions were described in detail. The results showed that after the flowering region is differentiated, morphological changes take place which are correlated with anatomical changes. The flowering region in this species is termed a lateral cephalium because of its reduced interareolar space, increased areole size and abundant long bristles and trichomes in the areoles. Periderm development near the apical meristem, lack of chlorenchyma and a delay in xylem fiber differentiation are also traits characteristic of a lateral cephalium. The lateral cephalium of C. columna-trajani shared the same combination of morpho-anatomical characters with its sister taxon, C. senilis, except for the number of ribs in the cephalium. Both species survive in high temperature environments and their cephalium faces north; however, only C. columna-trajani tilts, thus we hypothesize that incorporation of fewer ribs associated with periderm development in the cephalium contributes to stem tilting.
Full-text available
There are two broadly conceptualized ways in which conservation knowledge may evolve: the depletion crisis model and the ecological understanding model. The first one argues that developing conservation thought and practice depends on learning that resources are depletable. Such learning typically follows a resource crisis. The second mechanism emphasizes the development of conservation practices following the incremental elaboration of environmental knowledge by a group of people. These mechanisms may work together. Following a perturbation, a society can self-organize, learn and adapt. The self-organizing process, facilitated by knowledge development and learning, has the potential to increase the resilience (capability to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change) of resource use systems. Hence, conservation knowledge can develop through a combination of long-term ecological understanding and learning from crises and mistakes. It has survival value, as it increases the resilience of integrated social--ecological systems to deal with change in ways that continue to sustain both peoples and their environments.
Community-based conservation (CBC) is based on the idea that if conservation and development could be simultaneously achieved, then the interests of both could be served. It has been controversial because community development objectives are not necessarily consistent with conservation objectives in a given case. I examined CBC from two angles. First, CBC can be seen in the context of paradigm shifts in ecology and applied ecology. I identified three conceptual shifts-toward a systems view, toward the inclusion of humans in the ecosystem, and toward participatory approaches to ecosystem management-that are interrelated and pertain to an understanding of ecosystems as complex adaptive systems in which humans are an integral part. Second, I investigated the feasibility of CBC, as informed by a number of emerging interdisciplinary fields that have been pursuing various aspects of coupled systems of humans and nature. These fields-common property, traditional ecological knowledge, environmental ethics, political ecology, and environmental history-provide insights for CBC. They may contribute to the development of an interdisciplinary conservation science with a more sophisticated understanding of social-ecological interactions. The lessons from these fields include the importance of cross-scale conservation, adaptive comanagement, the question of incentives and multiple stakeholders, the use of traditional ecological knowledge, and development of a cross-cultural conservation ethic.