Front Page

Welcome to the website of the research project Political Forests – the Maya Forest

This project explores nature conservation politics in international borderlands with focus on the case of Maya Forest.

Maya Forest is a term developed by scholars and conservationists in the 1990s. It refers to the humid, tropical “Mayan” rainforests located in the borderlands of Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. Nowadays the region is also defined as a biodiversity hotspot.

The objective of the project is to research the developments, dynamics and challenges related to conservation in international borderlands, particularly in terms of the global strategy of transboundary conservation. The project seeks to bridge perspectives of International Relations, Borderlands Studies and Tropical Ecology.

In this website, you will find key information about the project in its different stages, forthcoming publications and divulgation endeavors.



Versus Online Popular Science Publication 30.05.2022:

Jaguar in trap camera
Jaguar in trap camera by Natura Mexicana

The Guardians of the Maya Forest

Lessons from transboundary nature conservation. Researchers from three continents discuss the extensions and the limits of the nature states: Hanna Laako et al. on the Maya Forest, Emily Wakild on Conservation as Coming Together, Ari Lehtinen the “Embryos of the Fennoscandian Greenbelt”, and Elisa Castro from Natura Mexicana about the transboundary ecosystem connectivity.



UEF Interview by Sari Eskelinen 04.03.2022:

The interviewee
Hanna Laako (Varpu Heiskanen)

Transboundary conservation politics in the spotlight of an International Relations scholar

During her years in Mexico, Senior Researcher Hanna Laako took a large leap in the multidisciplinary research of global politics. Empirical and fieldwork-based research is slowly gaining relevance in International Relations.





Kone Foundation Different Routes-series article 10.12.2021:

Illustration by Pauliina Mäkelä

In Kalimantan and Mesoamerica, nature needs protection without leaving people behind

Somewhere far away, biodiversity is dwindling and rainforests are being cut down. Nature conservation is a hot topic of conversation, but people who live in the midst of environmental disputes are often overlooked in such debates. Science journalist Mikko Pelttari asked researchers of sparsely populated border regions how we could better understand areas with the most to protect and the most to lose.






Principal researcher

Principal researcher Hanna Laako

Hanna Laako

Hanna Laako is the principal researcher of the project. She holds a PhD in Political Science. She is specialized in Conservation Politics, Border and Borderlands Studies, Mesoamerica and International Relations. She has lived and worked in Southern Mexican Borderlands for more than 10 years.

The project is funded by the Mexican Council of Science and Technology CONACYT (2019-2020), and the Finnish Kone Foundation (2020-2024). It is carried out in El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR, Mexico 2019-2020) and in the University of Eastern Finland (UEF, Finland 2020-2024).

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