A mosaic of land tenure and ownership creates challenges and opportunities for transboundary conservation in the US-Mexico borderlands

Case Studies in the Environment
By: , and 

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Abstract

In the Madrean Sky Islands of western North America, a mixture of public and private land ownership and tenure creates a complex situation for collaborative efforts in conservation. In this case study, we describe the current ownership and management structures in the US-Mexico borderlands where social, political, and economic conditions create extreme pressures on the environment and challenges for conservation. On the US side of the border, sky island mountain ranges are almost entirely publicly owned and managed by federal, state and tribal organizations that manage and monitor species, habitats, and disturbances including fire. In contrast, public lands are scarce in the adjacent mountain ranges of Mexico, rather, a unique system of private parcels and communal lands make up most of Mexico's Natural Protected Areas. Several of the Protected Area reserves in Mexico form a matrix that serves to connect scattered habitats for jaguars dispersing northward toward public and private reserves in the U.S. from their northernmost breeding areas in Mexico. Despite administrative or jurisdictional boundaries superimposed upon the landscape, we identify two unifying management themes that encourage collaborative management of transboundary landscape processes and habitat connectivity: jaguar conservation and wildfire management. Our case study promotes understanding of conservation challenges as they are perceived and managed in a diversity of settings across the US-Mexico borderlands. Ultimately, recognizing the unique and important contributions of people living and working under different systems of land ownership and tenure will open doors for partnerships in achieving common goals.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title A mosaic of land tenure and ownership creates challenges and opportunities for transboundary conservation in the US-Mexico borderlands
Series title Case Studies in the Environment
DOI 10.1525/cse.2019.002113
Edition Online First
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher University of California Press
Contributing office(s) Western Geographic Science Center
First page 1-10
Country Mexico, United States
State Arizona, Baja California, California, Chihuahua, New Mexico, Sonora