Human Ecology

, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 515–528 | Cite as

Fire Management in a Natural Protected Area: What Do Key Local Actors Say?

  • H. Leonardo Martínez-Torres
  • Diego R. Pérez-SalicrupEmail author
  • Alicia Castillo
  • M. Isabel Ramírez


Public policies on fire in forest ecosystems are changing from fire-fighting and suppression to an integrated management approach that incorporates ecological and social considerations. However, policy implementation is usually directed by central governments without considering local actors. We identified key local actors in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. This is an important natural protected area of high socio-environmental complexity and the overwintering sites of monarch butterfly that migrate from Canada and United States every year. We applied network and grounded theories to analyze qualitative information derived from semi-structured interviews with 28 key local actors including government employees, local inhabitants, non-governmental organization and academic personnel. We identified actors who play essential roles in local fire management. Aside from fire-fighting, local actors engage in fire prevention, habitat restoration, research, training, planning, coordination, and communication activities that are specific to a spatial, temporal, institutional, and environmental context of fire management. The incorporation of the concepts that local actors associate with fire knowledge, behavior, and regimes would result in better planning for fire management in the short, medium, and long-term.


Fire adapted communities Mexico Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve Wildfires 



This paper is part of the PhD thesis of the first author at Posgrado en Ciencias Biológicas at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Our gratitude to Mariana Cantú-Fernández, Salud Salas, Jairo López-Sánchez, and authorities of the CONANP-MBBR for their valuable collaboration, and all the institutions and KLA mentioned in this article for sharing their knowledge.


This study was funded by project “Effects of Natural and Human Disturbances in Coniferous Forests in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve: Implications for Fire Management” (SEP-CONACyT 2010–154434). DPS received support from PASPA-DGAPA program of UNAM.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The first author has received a graduate studies scholarship from Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Teconología (CONACyT), and the 2013 Ph.D. scholarship of the International Association of Wildland Fire. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y SustentabilidadUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMoreliaMexico
  2. 2.Centro de Investigaciones en Geografía AmbientalUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMoreliaMexico

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