Mexico Success Project

Mexico—La Trinidad-Community Managed Forests

If you had known La Trinidad—a settlement of 704 people in the middle of the Northern Mountain Range of Oaxaca—during the 1960’s, you might have thought they were surely heading to an irreversible path of deforestation and loss of species. Managed by a paper mill, the forests of La Trinidad did not suffer only from environmental degradation and loss of carbon sinks. The community faced high rates of unemployment, bad labor conditions, and the impossibility of using and managing their own territory.

Fast-forward to today, and you will see a completely different picture: the forest is communally owned and managed, and the community determines its use and how the profits should be spent. This scheme has allowed them to set sustainable logging regulations, promote reforestation practices, and preserve forest resources. Moreover, the businesses derived from this context, like furniture carpentry and eco-tourism enterprises, provide employment opportunities that promote productive diversification, the improvement of public services and infrastructure, and are thought to be related to the low rates of migration from this region.

Through its struggle against the paper mill during the 1980’s and returning to the communal management of resources, the community of La Trinidad was able to achieve forest conservation and reduction of deforestation, even before the inclusion of mitigation strategies in national policies. Their work has been recognized in recent years as both national and international institutions from the government, civil society and private enterprises have partnered with them to develop projects and ensure that this trend keeps going.

Like La Trinidad, most of the forest cover in Mexico (around 80%) belongs collectively to 8,500 communities that usually follow similar conservation schemes. This is reflected in the national reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from land conversion and use that went from 13.4% in 1998 to 6.3% in 2010, being the only sector that has achieved mitigation at a national scale. This positive trend sets Mexico on the way to achieve its Paris Agreement National Determined Contribution (NDC) pledge of 0% rate of deforestation by the year 2030. This will also contribute to its meeting its unconditional Paris Agreement commitment of reducing 22% of GHG emissions by the same year using a Business As Usual scenario of emission projections based on economic growth in the absence of climate change policies starting from 2013.

Communal management of forests is not unique to Mexico, but it is common practice in several countries of the Global South, and it is a model that can be copied to reduce emissions due to deforestation in other countries.

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About La Trinidad.
In Mexico, forests deliver for jobs and climate commitments: http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2016/05/10/in-mexico-forests-deliver-for-jobs-and-climate-commitments
Emigración en reversa: de Estados Unidos a hacer muebles en Oaxaca (Spanish):
http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2016/08/31/reverse-migration-furniture-forests-oaxaca

En La Trinidad, explotación racional del bosque (Spanish):
http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2016/07/05/sociedad/036n1soc

An Analysis of Forest-Based Offset Production in Oaxaca, Mexico Based on Critiques of the Forest Carbon Market: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/2681/d1cf45e19f917b93ba08ca5a42b51aef265f.pdf

Emissions in Mexico
Mexico’s Fifth National Communication to the UNFCCC (Spanish, Executive summary in English): http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/natc/mexnc5s.pdf
Mexican Report on Climate Change. Volume 3. Greenhouse Gas Emission and Mitigation (Spanish): http://www.pincc.unam.mx/libro_reportemex/reporte_mexicano_vol_III.pdf
Mexico’s INDC for the Paris Agreement: http://www4.unfccc.int/submissions/INDC/Published%20Documents/Mexico/1/MEXICO%20INDC%2003.30.2015.pdf