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Forest management in the Maya Biosphere Reserve: So far, so good

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 09:10 AM
Contributors: Henry Tschinkel, John Nittler

This USAID evaluation report examines USAID/Guatemala assistance to the Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR) project for conservation and management of 1.5 million ha reserve. USAID funded MBR from 1990 through 2001. Forests are managed under concessions allocated to communities, timber industries, and cooperatives. Gains in forest conservation were attributed to more effective control of invasions, illegal logging, and forest burning and to sustainable forest management initiatives. Natural forest management (NFM) by community and industrial concessions and cooperatives has promoted 1) economic benefits to the communities, 2) evolution of community attitudes toward sustainable forest use, and 3) stronger community identity and greater participation in community-based activities. The authors found that NFM has provided an effective means of promoting 1) the conservation of more than 600,000 ha of forest in the MBR, 2) viable forest enterprises contributing to the economies of communities, cooperatives and industries, 3) stability and economic development of the northern Peten, and. 4) revenues to public agencies available to finance conservation. Threats to the continued success of NFM activities include 1) risk of financial failure of community-based management, 2) social disintegration of the community and cooperative concessionaires, and 3) excessive bureaucracy. The authors recommend: Administrative procedures and structures for community organizations that promote transparency in decision making and reduce the risk of corruption; Long-term contractual relationships with industries and buyers; USAID provision of training to industry and community groups on harvest efficiency, timber recovery, and the utilization of secondary species; USAID-funded technical assistance focused on product and market development and on entrepreneurial training for communities and industries; Current support for technical assistance should be gradually replaced by community payments to service providers, drawing upon NFM revenues.

Author(s): Henry Tschinkel , John Nittler

Publication Date: 2000

Location: Guatemala

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