Maya Zone, Mexico

Conservation and capacity building in Maya communities

Maya Zone, Mexico

View the CCRN’s Maya Zone Community Story as a PDF

Quintana Roo’s “Maya Zone”, located in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, is a biocultural region with inhabitants who speak the Maya-Yucatec language in their daily lives. The Maya people rely on rainforest resources and agriculture as their main livelihoods. Maya communities also practice slash-and burn-cultivation (“milpa”) which is regarded as a cultural tradition. The communities are organized into common holdings called “ejidos”. The ejidos of Noh Cah and X-Maben, particularly their main towns (“Noh Cah” and “Señor”), have populations of 86 and 3,095, respectively. In socio-economic terms, these communities are highly marginalized.

The Maya people from these communities engage in conservation activities that help to maintain the services that the local environment provides. The complex meanings they have for such conservation, as well as their motivations for conservation, are important factors in the social subsystem of the Maya Zone. The Maya Zone area has been impacted by the effects of climatic variability (climate change). Over the last three decades, people in the communities have reported that rains have not arrived at expected times or in usual quantities. This has affected the productivity of traditional agriculture (“milpa”), a rain-fed system, resulting in insufficient harvests of staple foods to support local needs.