Forest Management and Forest-based Livelihoods in Sierra de Zongolica, Veracruz


The mountainous region of the Sierra de Zongolica is the most socially and economically deprived area in the State of Veracruz and one of the poorest in the country.  Its population consistes largely of an indigenous peasantry with large numbers of Nahua-speaking small-holders. Traditional livelihood procurement strategies, which include subsistence cultivation of maize and animal husbandry, complemented by small- scale commercial production of shade-grown coffee, handicrafts and some forest-products, are increasingly strained by low opportunity costs, unreliable markets and low prices and fragmentation of landholdings. As in other parts of Mexico, the loss of shaded coffee agroforests entails high environmental costs in terms biodiversity loss and damaged environmental services. Added to the problem of land conversion is a long history of unsustainable, often clandestine, logging for sawn timber and charcoal production. External support to the forestry sector has, until recently, been almost non-existent.

PPI-MIMOSZ partners Citlalli López, Patricia Negreros and others have been working in the region since 2005, supporting forestry-related training programs within the local campus of the indigenous university UVI (Universidad Veracruzana Intercultural) and directly assisting smallholders through several local organizations, including the OCISZ (Organización Campesina Independiente de la Sierra de Zongolica) and Fondo para la Paz. A primary focus of the project is to develop capacities among indigenous students and graduates, helping to develop training and curricula within the intercultural university, and helping students gain practical experience by working on hands-on resource management problems in communities or with producer organizations.  In addition, we provide focused mentoring and training to a handful of highly promising and talented young indigenous students and graduates and encourage peer-to-peer learning by promoting a series of exchanges between students of different schools and regions. For a poster presenting an overview of the project in spanish click here.


Small-holder management of family-owned forest plantations. In recent years, and partly in response to support from government agencies and such local producer organizations as the OCISZ and Fondo para la Paz, farmers in Zongolica have started to reforest parts of their small-holdings with native timber species. Through the support of the Overbrook Foundation and CONAFOR, PPI-MIMOSZ have been helping association members manage their silvicultural plots more effectively for optimal growth, livelihood generation and for biodiversity more 



Women artisans and agro-biodiversity conservation. As in other parts of rural Mexico, women play critical, albeit often undervalued and undermined, roles for the conservation of genetic and biological diversity in agro-forest environments, and in supporting local livelihoods through the production of subsistence foods and income generation. PPI has been working closely with women and women groups to revitalize traditional livelihoods and practices linked to more