Elizabeth Shapiro-Garza



Location 1

Research Location
El Salvador

Research Objective
To use interdisciplinary agroecological research as a tool for conservation by conducting a study on the small holder coffee systems of Western El Salvador.

Collaborating Institution
ASINDEC (Regional Small Holder Coffee Research NGO)

Funding Source/Sponsor
Yale University Program in Agrarian Studdies Fellow, Tropical Resources Institute Fellow

Students Involved


Location 2

Research Location
Mexico (3 Projects)

Research Objective
Project 1:  Contesting the Market-Based Discourse of Payments for Ecosystem Services
The stated intention of the initial international funders and designers of Mexico’s national PES programs was to introduce market efficiency into environmental policy and ‘‘green’’ the market through recognition of the economic value of healthy ecosystems. This line of my research draws on a ever-growing critical literature on neoliberal environmental governance to trace the complex processes through which this ideal type conceptualization of market-efficient environmental policy was subverted and the practice altered to more closely fit national interests, rural realities and alternative conceptions of the ‘value’ of socionature. I examine how the market-based notions of the international donors who supported the program’s development were hybridized at four distinct sites of articulation: (1) the federal politics of poverty alleviation in Mexico; (2) rural social movements with distinct conceptualizations of ‘conservation’ and ‘development’; (3) the institutional and cultural context of the ecosystem services being commodified; and (4) the socio-natural knowledges and grounded practices of rural Mexico. This research began in 2005 and is ongoing.

Project 2:  Local Level Dynamics of the Mexican Payments for Hydrological Services Program
This line of my research is based on a collaboration with environmental economists, landscape ecologists and geospatial researchers at the University of Wisconsin and Amherst College. The focus of the study is to conduct a national level analysis of the role of local institutions, the socioeconomic impacts, and changes in land use & forest management activities in the federal payments for hydrological services program in Mexico. Our approach is to combine ethnography in a sub-sample of 16 sites to understand the nuances of local level interaction with the program with national-level survey data from the household and community levels (N=1,350) and remote sensing analysis of deforestation rates in 115 sites where the program has been implemented compared to 115 sites with similar ecological and social conditions. We have completed data collection for this project and are currently analyzing our data and are beginning to report our results.

Project 3:  Institutional Dynamics and Equity Implications of Watershed-Level Payments for Ecosystem Services
This line of my research is in collaboration with an environmental economist at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University and focuses on an offshoot of Mexico’s federal PES programs called the Matching Funds (Fondos Concurrentes) initiative. This program attempts to support the development of institutional arrangements to create watershed-level PES mechanisms that directly link the users and providers of ecosystem services. Our research combines a multi-sited ethnography in twelve of the implementing sites with experimental economic methods and surveys in these same sites. We plan to examine the ways in which institutional, political and economic dynamics at multiple scales interact with the formation of institutional arrangements for PES and the distribution of costs and benefits of program implementation. We are in the process of completing the ethnographic fieldwork and are currently planning fieldwork for summer of 2014 which will combine experiments and surveys in a subset of these same twelve sites.

Collaborating Institution
Project 1:  The National Forestry Commission of Mexico (CONAFOR)

Project 2:  University of Wisconsin, Madison; Amherst College; The National Forestry Commission of Mexico (CONAFOR)

Project 3:  The National Forestry Commission of Mexico (CONAFOR)

Funding Source/Sponsor
Project 1:  UC MEXUS ($12,000), Institute for International Studies ($18,000) and the Tinker Foundation ($3,000) for dissertation research; Continuing research supported through concurrent grants from other projects

Project 2:  International Institute for Impact Evaluation ($446,000) & National Science Foundation ($552,000)

Project 3:  Tinker Foundation Institutional Grant ($438,850)

Students Involved
Project 1:  No.

Project 2:  Rachel Baker (MEM), Francisco Santiago Avila (MEM), Jane Rice (MEM) Selene Castillo (MEM),  Stephanie Roe (MEM), Susan Sanford (MEM)

Project 3:  Ruxandra Popovici (Doctoral UPEP); Luz Rodriguez (Doctoral UPEP); David Kaczan (Doctoral UPEP)




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