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This report summarizes preliminary findings of the Mexican National Database and Community Survey Project which examines linkages between institutional characteristics in Mexico’s common property forestry sector and economic and environmental outcomes. Framing the Mexican agrarian community as a unit of analysis characterized by its history, individual members, resources, civic structure and property rights, we use institutional economic analysis to motivate project design and research on three aspects of Mexican community forestry governance: first, how communities have engaged forest resources to participate in forestry markets; second, how internal models of forestry management are reflect historical circumstances and practices, policy trends and managerial preferences that are independent of vertical integration levels; third, correlation among market participation, internal organization and performance outcomes such as conservation levels, wealth and income indicators and public and private goods investment. The project employs unique community-level survey data collected in Durango and Michoacan between 2005 and 2007 to summarize basic statistics to describe the sector from the point of view of the project’s objectives. Preliminary results reveal an inverse relationship between integration into production chains and material wealth measures, no correlation between internal governance models and vertical integration, and significant regional variation in institutional characteristics. The emerging profile shows continually evolving and varied common property institutions and questions “one-size-fits-all” business models, pointing to the need for more specific understandings of the community forestry sector. The lessons learned can be applied to address the future role of “community” in Mexican economic and environmental policy, and, on a larger scale, the meaning of community forestry management in sustainable development strategies.


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