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Action-oriented research in environmental conflicts The Research Group of Responsive Natural Resources Governance has a lot to give when it comes to understanding prolonged environmental conflicts. Training is now used to put research findings into practice. TEXT SARI ESKELINEN PHOTOS IRMELI MUSTALAHTI, VIOLETA GUTIÉRREZ ZAMORA AND VARPU HEISKANEN

ENVIRONMENTAL CONFLICTS can easily escalate into

“The issues related to the governance of forests and

violence. “As researchers, it is our ethical duty to share our

land in San Pedro El Alto are very complicated, and this is

skills in order to support the communities’ ways of collabora-

partially influenced by the overlapping normative systems

tion and conflict mitigation,” Researcher Violeta Gutiérrez

that control indigenous peoples’ collective ownership of the

Zamora says.

land.”

Born in Mexico, Gutiérrez Zamora has been conducting field research in San Pedro El Alto, and she returned to Fin-

SAN PEDRO EL ALTO is just one example of the various envi-

land in early 2018. Located in south-west Mexico, San Pedro

ronmental conflicts taking place around the world.

El Alto is home to massive natural resources. Unfortunately,

“The conflict in San Pedro El Alto is multilayered and

however, the problems relating to the governance of natural

multifaceted, dating back hundreds of years,” says Professor

resources and to the use of those resources are also massive.

of Social Scientific Bioeconomy Research Irmeli Mustalahti.

The parties to the environmental conflict there include the

Mustalahti and Gutiérrez Zamora visited San Pedro El

local community and the neighbouring communities, as well

Alto for the first time in 2015. The village is one of the sites

as the regional and central government.

of research studied by UEF’s Research Group of Responsive

UEF BULLETIN 2018 37

UEF Bulletin 2018  
UEF Bulletin 2018