Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree

M.S. in Environmental Policy

Advisor

Professor Monique Segarra

Second Reader

Professor Jennifer Phillips

Third Reader

Professor Gautam Sethi

Abstract

Biological or ecological corridors have recently been sought out as a solution to biodiversity loss due to habitat fragmentation. In eastern Mexico, the Mexican and German governments are collaborating to connect fragmented landscapes and Natural Protected Areas (NPAs) over five states across a Madrean Pine-Oak biodiversity hotspot through the implementation of the Ecological Corridor of the Sierra Madre Oriental (CESMO). One of the ways the CESMO is accomplishing its conservation goals is by extending environmental programs that are currently in place within NPAs to other areas within the corridor, but outside of NPA borders. However, the success of the corridor can easily be undermined if the government and international conservation managers lack information about people’s attitudes and satisfaction levels with current environmental programs that are already in place in the NPAs. Without an evaluation of the public perception of these programs, the CESMO could potentially be relying on unsuccessful programs to fulfill its goals.

This thesis evaluates stakeholder perceptions of success and satisfaction of six local environmental programs in one municipality within an NPA of the CESMO. Semi-structured verbal interviews were conducted with three different groups of stakeholders: environmental program participants, program managers, and local leaders. Results indicate that more than half of the participants are satisfied with the environmental programs and believe these programs are successful because they meet program goals as well as their personal expectations. The participants and program managers who were not satisfied with these programs attributed their lack of success to a lack of program evaluation, poor planning, lack of participant motivation, conflict of interest among program managers and possible participants, small program reach, and program length being too short. Policy recommendations for the NPA are twofold. First, extend program cycles to allow for better program planning and include an output and outcomes based evaluation system. Second, the programs should be sufficiently flexible so they can address the specific wants and needs of each community to improve participant motivation and lessen conflicts of interest. Third, for the CESMO as a whole to address these issues, more bottom-up land management practices should be considered that focus more on community involvement throughout the entire land management process.

Access Control

Open Access