Back to the future: The persistence of horse skidding in large scale industrial community forests in Chihuahua, Mexico

David Barton Bray, Elvira Duran, Javier Hernández-Salas, Concepción Luján-Alvarez, Miguel Olivas-García, Iván Grijalva-Martínez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

© 2016 by the authors. Horse skidding for extracting logwood is characterized as a niche activity in small-scale forestry, limited to small tracts and low volumes, where environmental impacts and aesthetics are concerned, and to operations with no wood-processing facilities. This article documents and analyzes the widespread persistence, current magnitude, and multiple advantages of horse skidding in large-scale industrial community forest enterprises in Chihuahua, Mexico. We extracted data from the logging permit files of 59 communities in the Sierra Tarahumara and conducted semi-structured interviews with community leaders and foresters in 18 communities, 17 random selections, and one purposefully selected case. There are nine communities that can be considered large-scale. Six of them use animal traction for 20%-100% of their volume. All have sawmills integrated with their operations. This includes the El Largo community with a ten-year volume of 3,169,019 m3extracted from 123,810 ha entirely with horses. Respondents to the interviews report that horse skidding is more cost-effective than mechanized skidding, generates more employment, and has less impact on forests due to reduced carbon emissions. The widespread use of animal traction in large-scale industrial community forestry in Chihuahua demonstrates that horse skidding is not only a niche activity in small-scale forestry. Our data is preliminary, but we suggest that it highlights a need for further assessments of whether animal traction should be part of future efforts towards reduced impact, lower carbon emissions, and socially and economically just forest management.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalForests
DOIs
StatePublished - 16 Nov 2016

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