The use of fire within tropical forests to settle agriculture and livestock systems has long been causing a bottle-neck for governmental and environmental development agencies, especially in natural forested areas with local population. An international strategy followed since many years ago is the decree of special territories with vast forests as natural protected areas (NPA). In Mexico, environmental laws can run contrary to customs and practices of natural resource-dependent communities which still use fire to farm their lands as unique livelihood activity. The chapter examines two conflicting frameworks of resource management (forest and soil) and governance in a forest village’s efforts to comply with federal policies against fires in a NPA of Chiapas, Mexico. Forest and soil management is a key locus in California village, where governance structures come into conflict with hierarchical State power. Participatory workshops and semi-structured interviews were primary research instruments for data collection and discovery of community front and backstage. Ethnography and discourse analysis were used as main tools for the analysis of information. While the State leads the conservation efforts and limits cultural activities and local actions through coercive laws, the land use and resource-dependent communities defend their access rights, and they also determine how to individual or collectively manage fires in daily activities. Finding collective solutions with horizontal-dialogue strategies represent an important issue and a pending task for the development and preservation agencies focused on forested areas. Backstage dialogue is a tool for village self-preservation when livelihood strategies are at odds with protectionist conservation efforts.
Part of the book: Forest Fire