Human Ecology

, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 733–747 | Cite as

Does Tenure Matter? A Comparative Analysis of Agricultural Expansion in the Mosquitia Forest Corridor



This article compares how public protection of forests and common-property forest institutions serve to control outside encroachment into frontier forests in Honduras and Nicaragua. The article combines institutional analysis with ethnographically based fieldwork and analysis of land-cover images to evaluate how property-rights arrangements influence monitoring, enforcement, and compliance with rules to restrict agricultural expansion in two biosphere reserves in the Mosquitia Corridor. Findings show that territorial demarcation and common-property rights are important components for frontier forest conservation. In areas with weak enforcement mechanisms and heavy reliance on social norms over official regulatory measures, the findings suggest that the perceived legitimacy of tenure arrangements and their respective land-use rules are fundamental to controlling the agricultural frontier.

Key words

Property rights conservation deforestation protected areas environmental management 



This work would not have been possible without support from the Institute for International Exchange Fulbright Fellowship, National Science Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, the Center for the Study of Institutions, Population and Environmental Change (CIPEC), and the Workshop for Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University. Folks at The Nature Conservancy, MOPAWI, AFE-COHDEFOR, MARENA, Proyecto Biosfera Río Plátano, the Saint Louis Zoo, and Centro Humboldt were also crucial in facilitating my fieldwork. I would like to thank Felipe Murtinho, Anthony Stocks, Tom Evans, and Catherine Tucker for their comments on earlier drafts and Joanna Broderick for her helpful technical edits.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Seattle UniversitySeattleUSA

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