Ecological and Community Resilience: Income Diversification and Plant-Based Trade in the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor

Author(s): Maris Grundy
Published: 2015
Type: M.E.S. Papers/Theses

This investigation describes the ways that people and plants relate in the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor (ASBC), Costa Rica, and explores the potential for these relations to be managed by the campesino communities to generate both social and ecological resilience over time, for mutual benefit. Community resilience in the ASBC has been affected by declining coffee yields and limited options for livelihood diversification. A large part of supporting community resilience is in the creation of new and diverse livelihood opportunities in the ASBC. Therefore, this project explored plant-based community capitals as a way to assess community resources that could be engaged to support livelihood diversification. Following the measurement of these community capitals, desire for and feasibility of a local market were investigated to further ascertain if the communities residing in the ASBC would support the creation of a local market, a Transition Initiative that would simultaneously uphold ecological protection principles held in the Corridor and provide stability for household livelihoods. The findings suggest that participation in a Transition Initiative local market could support community resilience through introducing diverse livelihood options in the ASBC. The following paper is comprised of three involved parts. Firstly, conservation in the tropics is discussed considering the historical, ecological, and political situation in the tropics in order to contextualize this project into larger global events. Next, a summary of the key theoretical elements that guided the independent research project will be presented. The four theoretical elements engaged are (1) Social-Ecological Systems (SES) with a specific focus on social participation at the human community level, (2) Vulnerability, (3) Resilience, and (4) Ethnobotany. Finally, the independent research project will be laid out and discussed.