Since the 1990s national and international programs have aimed to legitimize local conservation initiatives that might provide an alternative to the formal systems of state-managed or otherwise externally driven protected areas. We used discourse analysis (130 semistructured interviews with key informants) and descriptive statistics (679 surveys) to compare local perceptions of and experiences with state-driven versus community-driven conservation initiatives. We conducted our research in 6 communities in southeastern Mexico. Formalization of local conservation initiatives did not seem to be based on local knowledge and practices. Although interviewees thought community-based initiatives generated less conflict than state-managed conservation initiatives, the community-based initiatives conformed to the biodiversity conservation paradigm that emphasizes restricted use of and access to resources. This restrictive approach to community-based conservation in Mexico, promoted through state and international conservation organizations, increased the area of protected land and had local support but was not built on locally relevant and multifunctional landscapes, a model that community-based conservation is assumed to advance. © 2013 Society for Conservation Biology.
- Conservation paradigms
- Indigenous and community-conserved areas
- Latin America
- Protected areas