Petén’s community forest concessions: A pillar of forest conservation and livelihoods development in Guatemala

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FTA-PIM research documents show strong benefits of community forest concessions

A quarter-century-long experiment with community forest concessions in the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala’s Petén region has become a shining example of how community stewardship of tropical forests can contribute to forest conservation and livelihoods development. Yet as concession contracts come up for renewal,[1] competing interests such as cattle ranching, tourism, oil exploitation and drug trafficking could threaten this model of success.

Established in 1990, the Maya Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected area in Central America. Forty percent of its area has been set aside as a Multiple Use Zone to promote sustainable forest use. Starting in the second half of the 1990s, 12 community forest concessions were granted to local communities for 25 years, covering an area of about 400,000 ha. Each concession is operated by a community forest enterprise (CFE), which extracts timber and non-timber forest products sustainably, as documented by FSC certification.

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