Maya Biosphere Reserve (Guatemala)

Maya Biosphere Reserve (Guatemala)

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 15:25
Posted in:

The Maya Biosphere Reserve in the Petén region of northern Guatemala, together with the Maya Forest of Belize and Mexico, represents one of the largest areas of tropical forest north of the Amazon and the northernmost tropical forest in the Western Hemisphere.

The Maya Biosphere Reserve in the Petén region of northern Guatemala, together with the Maya Forest of Belize and Mexico, represents one of the largest areas of tropical forest north of the Amazon and the northernmost tropical forest in the Western Hemisphere.

It is also part of three contiguous UNESCO-recognized biosphere reserves including the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in the Yucatán and Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in southern Mexico.

The reserve has seven core areas, and includes four national parks and three wildlife reserves which contain high and medium lowland forest, inundated savannas, small fields of pine, caves and rocky habitats, lakes and lagoons, rivers and wetlands and remnant mangrove forests. The Tikal National Park World Heritage site is a core area which brings 180,000 national and international tourists each year, and as a result tourism is the single largest income producer.

The multiple use zone is composed of tropical forest dedicated to the sustainable harvest of zate palms, chicle gum, all spice and timber. A southerly-located buffer zone has been rapidly changing from a forested landscape with scattered agricultural patches to an agricultural landscape with an increasingly fragmented forest.

The population of Petén has grown from 25,000 to more than 500,000 (2002) during the last 30 years. Most of these people have settled in regions south of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, but as lands in the southern Petén are occupied and new logging and oil roads are opened in the reserve, increasing pressure is applied to the biosphere itself.

Promoting diverse sources of income-generation for local people is a major concern. Guatemalan and international conservationists work on core area delimitation and protection, combining efforts to find economic alternatives to slash-and-burn farming in order to forge a new future for local populations in the Maya Biosphere Reserve.