Community-based management strategies for biocultural diversity conservation

Field Workshop I in Calakmul

In Calakmul, the two communities – El Sacrificio and Once de Mayo – each organised their own workshops, which followed similar patterns and processes. Following the introductions and the presentation of the project, the local team leader described the objective of the workshop: to establish co-inquiry as a research process with the aim of collaboratively exploring how resources could be better managed for community wellbeing. A space was given for community members to air their concerns about current problems their resources and lands are facing, and a useful exchange was had. Subsequently, the COMBIOSERVE team presented previous experiences of co-inquiry, to give the communities a flavour of the proposed collaboration.


Figure 1: Participating in the workshop introductions in El Sacrificio. Photo: Emma Villaseñor.


On the second day, after the research teams were formed, the whole group was given the theoretical perspective on the creation of maps. The concept of layers was explained, with three layers being highlighted for the purpose of this workshop: Layer 1, - limits; Layer 2 – landscape units; and Layer 3 – research themes (based on community understandings of their problems, opportunities, challenges, etc.). On day 2, each research team was asked to draw layers 1 and 2, leaving layer three for the following day. On day 3, once layers 1 and 2 were complete, the research teams were asked to choose a research theme, bearing in mind that the research process itself would help focus and streamline these themes to make them manageable for the co-inquiry process.


Figure 2: An impression (in spanish) of the flow for developing research themes


In December,  a follow-up workshop was held during which research questions were firmed up using the starting question What do we want to carry out research on and why? This process sought to establish research themes that were both viable, interesting and appropriately scheduled for elaboration over the next 3 years.


The tentative themes chosen by research teams in El Sacrificio were:


  • The Iguanas research team: to understand the different soil types and their related fertility issues
  • The Cedars research team: to assess the number of orchids species, and their distribution and populations for potental cultivation and commercialisation
  • The Highland Guans research team: to explore the fauna and flora of an area known as ‘the desert’ and its potential for ecotourism; to learn how to control the invasive expansion of bracken fern and about options for reforestation of these invaded areas
  • The Posadas research team: to carry out research on the possibility of establishing commercial fruit orchards to complement the sale of corn. They are also interested in learning more about the potential impacts of GMO corn and payments for environmental services.
  • The Toucans research team: to investigate the problems associated with cultivating garden produce, chilli in particular; the problems with water quality; and the consequences of relocation from the conservation area.


Figures 3-7 (from left to right): Los Cedros team creating their maps; the map of the community by Los Posadas research team (Emma Villaseñor); getting to grips with map layers, and presenting the final results of the team work in Once de Mayo (Carla F.L.); exploring the landscape and its issues with community researchers and participatory video during the workshop (Christoph Schunko)


The tentative themes chosen by the research teams in Once de Mayo were:


  • Luna research team: to improve management and production of domestic fowl and kitchen gardens
  • Los Alegres de Calakmul research team: to learn how to deal appropriately with crop pests
  • The Jaguars research team: to learn how to better manage bees and honey production; how to improve sheep husbandry; carrying out research to improve community control over invasive plant species and pests in swidden plots.
  • Santa Rosa research team: to carry out research and monitoring on birds and mammals from the mountainous areas; to improve the management and productivity of domestic fowl.
  • The Tigers research team: to carry out monitoring and research to compare butterfly populations in different areas – homegardens, swidden plots, and mountainous areas.


Figure 8: Group photo at the end of the workshop in El Sacrificio.