Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Michael Mayerfeld Bell


Three studies were done to assess the attitudes of farmers in central Quintana Roo about changes in the land tenure system and toward their tropical forest environment. Three ejidos were selected, to represent the range of types of communities in the area;Recent visions of "modernization" in Mexico have involved a large amount of privatization, including encouraging privatization of ejido (community-owned) land. The attitudes of residents of three communities towards land privatization and tree planting and care were analyzed. The residents of the two more traditional Maya communities had strong feelings about the importance of maintaining the ejido system of land use and management. The residents of the third, more modern community did not feel the need to hold onto the old system and are trying private land ownership, hoping to gain from increased access to credit and from chances to do long-term planning on their own, titled parcels of land. Residents of all three communities, however, agreed that they would plant more trees and manage them better if they were to have private ownership of the land;The "proximity effect," as described by Nowak in the midwestern U.S., is the common tendency for farmers to see resource degradation problems as more serious on neighboring land than on their own land. In this study, the proximity effect in deforestation was tested. The most modern of the three communities had proximity-effect responses most like those found in the U.S., while the traditional Maya communities did not;Attitudes toward the forest and the environment were assessed. Residents of the more modern community expressed more utilitarian and economistic views of the forest, while residents of the two Maya communities saw the forest more frequently as their "mother" or their "source of life." They also have more of a survival orientation that focuses on the present and limits their long-term environmental planning, which may affect forestry efforts;The results of these studies demonstrate that there can be large differences between communities, based on their socio-cultural circumstances, toward privatization of the land and toward the environment.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Susan Kathryn Jarnagin



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

141 pages