This project is focused on climate change adaptation in Totonicapán, Guatemala, a department in the highlands of Guatemala. Approximately 97% of the population of the department identify as indigenous, and the local forests have the lowest rate of deforestation anywhere in the country. As a result, the area provides an excellent opportunity to study community-based forestry in the context of (a) growing climate change-related impacts; (b) indigenous land management practices; and (c) the role of foreign assistance in building resilience in a developing country context.
This work draws on my graduate work in political ecology as well as my undergraduate foundations in development studies and Central American environmental politics, combined with the latest literature on climate change and community forestry. After a preliminary visit in December 2018, I organized two weeks of data collection in and around the city of Totonicapán, collecting interviews with 30 forest managers and users representing stakeholders on a range of scales. For this work, I also trained and sponsored two undergraduate students as research assistants, guiding them in the literature, qualitative data collection and management, and data processing. Having processed and coded the data, I am now writing initial findings up for publication.