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The Political Ecology of Transboundary Development: Land Use, Flood Control and Politics in the Tijuana River Valley

Serge Dedina


Scholars (Alegria O. 1992, Fernandez 1977, Gildersleeve 1978, Griffin and Ford 1976, Herzog 1990, Hoffman 1983) have long argued that cultural, social and economic linkages have formed spatially unified cities along the Mexico-United States border. Overlooked, however, are the impacts of transboundary interaction on the biophysical resources of the border region. This oversight can partially be explained by the region's arid environment which is viewed as having little biological diversity and thus few differences. This popular characterization is incorrect. The dramatic increase in the human population since the 1950s has dramatically altered the region's flora, fauna and hydrology. Not only have environmental changes occurred, but they differ on either side of the border. Contrasts in population density and distribution, and levels of economic development, each a function of legislation that regulates urban areas, have internationally different consequences.

This article examines how politics affects the biophysical environment of Mexico-U.S. twin border cities. The focus of the study is the Tijuana River Valley in the Tijuana-San Diego metropolitan region. Crossed by the international boundary, this valley consists of two separate and contrasting parts that illustrate the divergent effects of politics on natural resources in an otherwise unified ecosystem.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229