The ecological, social and political challenges of conserving biodiversity across the U.S.-Mexico border are the focus of a new release by the University of Arizona Press.
"Conservation of Shared Environments: Learning from the United States and Mexico" – the first in a series called Edge Books – offers citizens and decision makers in the United States and Mexico insights into the thorny environmental issues that straddle the border and provides a blueprint for resolving them.
These issues include protecting animal migration and habitat corridors from land-use change; preserving water resources that sustain ecosystems amid chronic water shortages, droughts and climate change; and securing the ecological integrity of borderlands in the face of homeland security efforts, undocumented migration and drug trafficking.
"At this moment in time – as fences and security activities separate our two countries – it is particularly crucial to remember how the environment shared by the United States and Mexico unites us," said Laura López-Hoffman, an assistant professor in the UA's School of Natural Resources and the Environment.
"The goal of the book is to remind us that as neighbors, we would be well-served to work together on the ecological challenges we share," said López-Hoffman, also the book's lead editor.
In addition to López-Hoffman, the first Edge book editors are Robert Varady, deputy director, and also Emily McGovern, researcher and editor, both at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy; and also Karl Flessa, head of the UA's geosciences department. Chapter authors hail from academia, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations in both the U.S. and Mexico.
The book explores how actions, policies and management decisions on and near the border can have far-reaching consequences for ecological resources.
In one chapter, for example, López-Hoffman and others explains how the destruction of long-nosed bat habitat can affect tequila production in central Mexico, and how logging and intensive agricultural practices threaten the monarch butterfly migration from Canada to Mexico-and the ecotourism industry it has spawned south of the border.
Through case studies, the chapters also describe the many formal and informal institutions and activities already occurring and scrutinize their success.
The book concludes with a set of specific guiding principles for structuring efforts and policies for transboundary conservation, as well as three policy recommendations for energizing transboundary conservation in the short term.
"The intent of the book and the series is to make this dense amount of information available, especially to policy makers, in a digestible, usable, and meaningful way," said Barbara Morehouse, deputy director for research at the UA's Institute of the Environment.
"Each chapter begins with bullet points that summarize the vital information presented so that it is transparent, clear, and useful for making better decisions," Morehouse said.
In addition to Morehouse, Marc Miller, professor at James E. Rogers College of Law, and Jonathan Overpeck, co-director of the Institute of the Environment and professor of geosciences, edit the series.
"The subject, quality, and policy implications of this book could not be more appropriate to launch the book series. The book is a worthy contribution both as the introduction to Edge Books and on its own terms," Miller said.