• Service: Advisory
  • Type: KPMG information
  • Date: 12/18/2013

Fires and deforestation significantly reduced in the Maya Biosphere  

In Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve, annual deforestation was reduced by 21% and degradation by fire by nearly 70% in the GTF project area. Six permanent Protection and Control Centres were established to control access to the core of the reserve and reduce timber and wildlife trafficking. Protection measures – patrols, over‐flights, and governance monitoring ‐ have also been improved, safeguarding the forest for the use of poor and indigenous people.
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Key elements of context


  • Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR) is the most ecologically and archeologically important region of Guatemala and one of the most important conservation areas in the hemisphere
  • Resource rights within the MBR were granted to forest‐dependent local communities as part of end of Guatemala’s 36-yr civil war and signing of the 1996 peace accords
  • Yet illegal colonisation, agricultural conversion, drug trafficking and forest fires were severely degrading the MBR, and resulting in loss of basic rights and economic opportunity for the local populations
  • Access to many parts of the Reserve was completely open, allowing for the illegal removal of timber, wildlife, and Mayan archaeological relics, as well as the entry of illegal colonists, machinery and tools for forest destruction, and implements for large-scale ranching including cattle, barbed wire, and salt and mineral blocks
  • Fire used to clear agricultural plots and to sabotage protected areas regularly escaped into forest areas instigating major forest fires, degrading forests and putting local inhabitants’ health at risk due to smoke inhalation
  • Between 2000-2010, the mean rate of deforestation in the project area was 2,687 hectares per year and the mean area degraded by forest fires was 11,753 hectares annually.