Reconnecting with nature: attitude change towards conservation of the cloud forest herpetofauna in a Chinantec community

Edna Leticia González-Bernal

La Esperanza, an indigenous community in Oaxaca, Mexico conserves through the ICCA´s modality 4421 Ha of montane cloud forest where 45% of the endemic amphibian species of the state are distributed. However, among La Esperanza inhabitants, conservation is poorly understood as decisions are taken vertically by municipality authorities. Locally, conservation is perceived as a passive process that implies the delimitation of areas where logging is controlled vs. subsistence areas ignoring the relation of daily actions with forest dynamics. Additionally, the disconnection with the forest increases among younger people that usually emigrate.

Through a one-year process of activities with the community, we aim to promote biodiversity knowledge appropriation, a reconnection with forest processes and generate an attitude change in identified noxious and still common activities like snake killings, agrochemicals application, garbage burning, and drastic land-use change along rivers.  We aim to change the perception of conservation to an active process that can yields daily benefits to the locality, including economic ones. With these actions, the risk of a decision to stop conservation programmes will be reduced and  the long-term protection of the forest enhanced by providing tools to understand the effects of daily activities on the socio-environmental ecosystem health.