Political Landscapes: Forests, Conservation, and Community in Mexico
Revolutionary Forestry, 1928–1942
Post-revolutionary governments promoted policies land reform, economic nationalism, and eventually an agenda of social justice. This political cycle culminated with the 1934–40 presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas, who advocated conservation, social mobilization, education, and agrarian reform in which thousands of peasant communities received land grants known as ejidos. Since forests were included in this redistribution, a newly invigorated forest service headed by Miguel Angel de Quevedo redoubled its efforts to teach rural people how to manage the land and to oversee village logging by organizing peasants into producers’ cooperatives monitored by forestry experts. Although these cooperatives sometimes fell prey to cronyism and corruption, they nevertheless flourished in Michoacán, where they became embedded in local production practices. Land reform and cooperatives functioned less well in Chihuahua, where mestizos often monopolized the land reform process, while commercial interests like the Madera Company continued to dominate commercial logging.