Academic journal article The Geographical Review

Exploring Market-Based Development: Market Intermediaries and Farmers in Calakmul, Mexico*

Academic journal article The Geographical Review

Exploring Market-Based Development: Market Intermediaries and Farmers in Calakmul, Mexico*

Article excerpt

Preservation of tropical forests lies at the nexus of conservation strategies and market forces. Guided by concerns about globalization, neoliberalism, sustainability, and global environmental change, various research communities have addressed the development or degeneration of tropical forests. Many researchers are particularly concerned with the ways in which tropical forest communities and their habitats are tied into the larger ecological and economic world beyond their immediate locale (see, for example, Blaikie and Brookfield 1987; Lambin and others 2001; Lawrence and others 2004). For these scholars the specific research question is often less significant than their overriding concern with how global markets reach into and threaten the viability of tropical habitats and the livelihood activities of their inhabitants. The global influence of markets is examined directly, in terms of the dynamics of commodity chains, by Jeffrey Sachs (2000, 2005), Jagdish Bhagwati (2004), and Martin Wolf (2004), and more indirectly through the remittances of migrants on their places of origin (Selby, Murphy, and Lorenzen 1990). Other scholars have explored how ramifications of entitlements (Sen 1999), social capital (Bebbington 2000), and unequal power relationships (Peet and Watts 1996; Roberts 1996; Marsden and others 1996) affect the sustainability of tropical forest ecosystems.

Market dynamics clearly are recognized as major drivers promoting change in tropical forests, but the mechanisms and linkages by which these forces operate, as well as the interpretation of their relative importance, remain a topic of vigorous debate (Angelsen and Kaimowitz 1999; Geist and Lambin 2001; Keys and McConnell 2005; McConnell and Keys 2005). Markets and corruption are implicated in the deforestation of much of Indonesia, the Malay Peninsula, and the Philippines (Kummer and Turner 1994; Brookfield, Potter, and Byron 1995). In Mexico, forest ejidos (communally governed lands awarded by the government) frequently seek "certified production status" in order to gain access to markets, particularly specialized niche markets, in the United States and the European Union (Klooster 2003). (1) Structural adjustments in both international and global markets influence the rate and intensity of investment in resource extraction in Amazonian rain forests, drive speculative investments in rural land acquisition, and affect everything from the viability of commercial logging operations to market demand for exotic pets and products (Kaimowitz, Thiele, and Pacheco 1999; Pfaff 1999; Sierra, Tirado, and Palacios 2003). Equally important is the investment made by governments and private parties in the development of improved road infrastructure. At all levels, from the local to the regional, better roads open up tropical forests and their products to worldwide markets as well as spontaneous and centrally planned agrarian settlement (for example, Humphries 1998; Cropper, Griffiths, and Mani 1999).

The past decade has witnessed the rise of various forms of integrated environmental science involving tropical forest biomes, ecosystems, and landscapes as coupled human-environment systems. Self-labeled as "land-change science" (Gutman and others 2004), "sustainability science" (Kates and others 2001), "ecosystem service studies" (Daily 1997), "political ecology" (Zimmerer and Bassett 2003; Robbins 2004), or "vulnerability science" (Luers and others 2003; Turner and others 2003), these research orientations and interests are applied to the interactions among forests, the uses of forests, and their human-environment consequences. Expansion of markets is a common, perhaps dominating, theme in these works. Recent integrated land-change science approaches have paid less attention to the mechanisms that give rise to and operate the market in tropical frontier conditions (Klepeis and others 2004; Keys and McConnell 2005; McConnell and Keys 2005). This lack of understanding masks how markets influence the natural environment and vice versa. …

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