People and Forests in Historical Perspective

Chapter 2 presents key points of La Campa’s social and environmental transformations through conquest, colonialism, and the postindependence eras. It highlights glimpses of Lenca culture and La Campa’s early years as revealed in archival documents. Archival data support an argument that forest conservation during this period reflected low population pressure and abundant forest resources rather than purposeful efforts. The discussion explores how population collapse and Spanish domination led to the emergence of syncretic traditions and forms of community governance that continue to affect people’s lives and natural resource management. It presents the earliest documented evidence for collective action in La Campa, which culminated in the community’s gaining municipal status. The chapter concludes by considering the possibility that Lenca beliefs, rituals, and myths provided an implicit basis for conservation.

Key Terms

colonial period Lenca Indians prehistoric and historical forest transformations Spanish conquest syncretic traditions 

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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

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