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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Framework for a model of ecosystem based community development for the Bribris of Mojoncito, Costa Rica Grandy, Jake Brionn


The conventional model of development, which unduly emphasizes the economic component, has claimed that through modernization and trade liberalization, poverty among the world's rural poor would be alleviated. A growing body of scholarly literature suggests that this is not the case and the conventional model of development is widening the gap between rich and poor and severely damaging the ecosystem in the process. This thesis examines the development experience of a small community of Bribri indigenous farmers in Costa Rica to determine if their present path of development has increased their well-being, and if it is ecologically sustainable. It also examined the traditional ecological knowledge of the Bribris to determine if it could be used as an alternative basis of community development. The final aim of this thesis was to develop a framework of a model of ecosystem based community development for the Bribri community. Through Ecological Footprint Analysis and Participatory Research, I found that of the three systems analysed (traditional polyculture, organic banana monoculture, conventional plantain monoculture), the two farming systems typical of the conventional model of development: organic banana production, conventional (chemically-based) plantain production, had larger footprints and therefore are less sustainable than the traditional polyculture farm based on the ecological knowledge of the Bribris. Through interviews with Bribri farmers and other independent research, a foundation for an ecosystem-based model of development was formulated which involved both farm design strategies and organizational strategies for the community.

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