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CGIAR Research Programs
CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)
CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM)
Bioversity International
Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
Bioversity International
World Agroforestry (ICRAF)
Asociación de Comunidades Forestales de Petén (ACOFOP)
Consejo Nacionalde Áreas Protegidas (CONAP)
Rainforest Alliance
Geographic scope
Contact people
Dietmar Stoian, ICRAF
Iliana Monterroso, CIFOR


In Guatemala, scientific evidence from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) reveals that communities can successfully manage and conserve forests.  

Joint FTA/PIM research on the socio-economic performance of community forest concessions in the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Petén, Guatemala, has made several contributions, including:

  1. Informing the revision of technical norms for concession renewal by Guatemala’s Council for Protected Areas (CONAP) in September 2019, as well as informing other technical documents1; and
  2. The renewal of the first concession contract (Cooperative Carmelita) in December 2019 for a second cycle of 25 years, with continued rights to sustainable management of forest resources. 
A community forest concession in Petén, Guatemala. Photo by PIM/FTA

The study covers an area of 400,000 hectares of community forest.

FTA and PIM partners, Bioversity International, World Agroforestry (ICRAF) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), in close collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance, the Asociación de Comunidades Forestales de Petén (ACOFOP), the National Council for Protected Areas (CONAP) and other local partners, conducted a study on all 12 community forest concessions, covering an area of approximately 400,000 hectares 

The study showed that the community concessions have largely been successful, in terms of both forest conservation and socio-economic development. The findings support the communities’ claim for concession renewal and have broader implications for natural resource governance. Moreover, the study clearly establishes gender- and age-differentiated benefits of community forest concessions and identifies opportunities for enhancing gender and intergenerational equity.  

Xate palm fronds, being sorted here for export, are a sustainable source of income for residents of the Uaxactun Community Forest Concession. Photo by PIM/FTA

Community forest concessions provide opportunities to enhance gender and intergenerational equity.

Additionally, scientists from CIFOR received an invitation to contribute to the United Nations Development Program’s 2019 Human Development Report for Guatemala, which for the first time used a territorial approach for analyzing challenges to development. This gives broader legitimacy to the struggle for land and forest rights in Guatemala, and specifically for the renewal of community concessions.  

The research team was further invited to present results at the XXV International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) World Congress2 and at an event organized for ACOFOP’s 30th anniversary.  

Looking ahead, conflicting interests and competing claims over land in the Maya Biosphere Reserve persist – issues which have been covered by international and national media. Continued generation of evidence and engagement of PIM and FTA researchers is critical in view of emerging initiatives for the creation of a new national park, to allow for a solution that would enable a national park and community managed areas to co-exist. Such initiatives include a proposal presented to the United States Senate requesting support for the Mirador-Calakmul Basin Maya Security and Conservation Partnership Act of 2019 and Guatemalan lobbying initiatives around the issue within the Parliament.

Coatis, an example of the biodiversity found in community forests in Guatemala. Photo by PIM/FTA



1 CONAP. 2019. “Sistema de Monitoreo y Evaluación del Desempeño de las Unidades de Manejo, Establecidas en la Zona de Uso Múltiple de la Reserva de la Biósfera Maya, Guatemala.” Documento Técnico No. 16-2019. Guatemala. (Explicit reference to uptake of CIFOR research on page 10.)

2 Stoian, D., Rodas, A., and Monterroso, I. 2019. “Forest conservation and socio-economic benefits through community forest concessions: Evidence from the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Petén, Guatemala.” Paper presented at the IUFRO 2019 XXV World Congress held in Curitiba, Brazil on 29 September-5 October.


Header photo: A resident of the Uaxactun Community Forest Concession in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve in northern Guatemala sorts and bundles Xate palm fronds for shipment to markets in North America. Photo by I. Monterroso/CIFOR