Mapping socio-environmentally vulnerable populations access and exposure to ecosystem services at the U.S.–Mexico borderlands

Laura M. Norman, Miguel L. Villarreal, Francisco Lara-Valencia, Yongping Yuan, Wenming Nie, Sylvia Wilson, Gladys Amaya, Rachel Sleeter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Socio-environmental vulnerable populations are often unrepresented in land-use planning yet have great potential for loss when exposed to changes in ecosystem services. Administrative boundaries, cultural differences, and language barriers increase the disassociation between land-use management and marginalized populations living in the U.S.–Mexico borderlands. This paper describes the development of a Modified Socio-Environmental Vulnerability Index (M-SEVI), using determinants from binational census and neighborhood data that describe levels of education, access to resources, migratory status, housing, and number of dependents, to provide a simplified snapshot of the region's populace that can be used in binational planning efforts. We apply this index at the SCW, located on the border between Arizona, USA and Sonora, Mexico. For comparison, the Soil and Water Assessment Tool is concurrently applied to assess the provision of erosion- and flood control services over a 9-year period. We describe how this coupling of data can form the base for an ecosystem services assessment across political boundaries that can be used by land-use planners. Results reveal potential disparities in environmental risks and burdens throughout the binational watershed in residential districts surrounding and between urban centers. The M-SEVI can be used as an important first step in addressing environmental justice for binational decision-making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-424
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Geography
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012


  • Ecosystem services
  • Environmental justice
  • Equity
  • Human well-being
  • Sustainability
  • Vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • General Environmental Science
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Mapping socio-environmentally vulnerable populations access and exposure to ecosystem services at the U.S.–Mexico borderlands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this