Designing A Biological Corridor in Oaxaca, Mexico

Abstract

Situated in the biodiversity hotspot of Oaxaca, San Juan Lachao and San Pedro Juchatengo boast an impressive collection of faunal species. Protecting these animals is critical to both prevent extinction and support the communities’ cultures and economies. In our study, we focused on six species – white-tailed deer, jaguarundi, ocelot, puma, peccary, and coati – to locate potential conservation areas and generate a corridor to connect them. Using camera trap observations collected by community members, remotely sensed data, and information gathered in the field, we employed statistical models to map the distribution of each focal species based on probability of occurrence. We then prioritized conservation areas by selecting sizable regions with overlapping distributions. Finally, we calculated least cost paths to find an optimal corridor site. To facilitate future studies, we also classified a highly accurate land use land cover map for the region. Our results identified two priority conservation areas in Lachao totaling 2,774 ha. In future studies, we recommend adjusting the camera trap protocol to extend into Juchatengo and focus on potential conservation areas that have not yet been observed. Additional environmental variables collected at the camera trap sites would also likely markedly improve our distribution models. For indigenous communities that rely on their collective lands for living, biological diversity is an essential aspect of their management practices and is integral to their livelihoods and cultural values. Livelihood activities by indigenous communities also have important implications on local biodiversity both as a source of stress and as a potential force of environmental stewardship. Alternative livelihood projects (ALPs) refer to conservation interventions that intend to reduce people’s reliance on threatened natural resources,generate economic benefits and increase local support for conservation. ICICO has actively promoted ALPs in the two agrarian communities that we worked with, San Juan Lachao and San Pedro Juchatengo, as a strategy for integrating biodiversity and socioeconomic goals. In this part of our project, we studied the socioeconomic effects of the proposed biological corridor and explored the potential for alternative livelihood projects in the client communities. We conducted 18 semi-structured interviews with leaders from Lachao and Juchatento, to determine perceptions of benefits and barriers regarding ALP’s and a proposed biological corridor connecting the two communities. We spent time with community members in the field to build trust and gather supporting data from conversations regarding the project. Then, we conducted an in-depth literature review of case studies of four types of alternative livelihood projects identified by ICICO as being of particular interest and relevance for these communities: forest-based carbon offset, non-timber forest product, agroforestry and ecotourism. From the review of literature, we drew lessons that can inform the development of projects in our client communities. Integrating the coding and data analyses from the interviews and the literature review, we determined recommendations towards implementing ALP’s and conservation activities that will link the communities and support the corridor.

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Citation

Erdman, Krista, Kimberly Myers, Virginia Patterson and Zifeng Wang (2020). Designing A Biological Corridor in Oaxaca, Mexico. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/20548.


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