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Ambiente & sociedade

On-line version ISSN 1809-4422


AZUELA, Antonio. Illegal logging and local democracy: between communitarianism and legal fetishism. Ambient. soc. [online]. 2006, vol.2Selected edition, pp. 0-0. ISSN 1809-4422.

The paper considers two major views of illegal logging: "Communitarian" and "legalistic". The former emphasizes the positive role of local communities and sees law enforcement programs as, at least potentially, counterproductive to environmental policy. While this perception fails to take the rule of law seriously, it shows the importance of local arrangements for sustainable use of forests. On the other hand, there is a view of deforestation that defines it only in juridical terms as 'illegal logging', without taking into account the variety and complexity of social problems at local level. The paper reviews some of the ways social sciences help us to overcome the limitations of both views. However, it also points at an issue that has not been sufficiently addressed by social disciplines: the question of local democracy. While most observers agree on the need of democratic institutions at the local level, there is not enough research and deliberation on the social conditions that make those institutions possible. This is a challenge for social sciences, due to the growing complexity of rural societies, a complexity that includes inter alia conflicts between owners and non-owners of natural resources, as well as the presence of 'external' social actors such as NGOs.

Keywords : Illegal logging; common property resources; deforestation; Mexico; local government; environmental crime.

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