The Maya Biosphere reserve was created in 1990, and covers over 50 percent of Petén state in Guatemala and is connected to protected areas in Belize and Mexico. At 2.1 million hectares, it is one of the largest areas of tropical forests north of the Amazon. The reserve has three zones; a core zone which consists of state owned national parks and reserves, and where harvest activities are restricted. A second state owned zone, where regulated harvest of zate palms, chicle gum, allspice and timber is permitted. A less regulated buffer zone, which includes privately owned land. Rapid land use change has been occurring in the buffer zone, with agriculture turning into the dominant activity and reducing forest cover.
In an effort to develop a long term model which integrates livelihoods and conservation priorities, local communities were granted concessions, which gave them management rights over the state owned multiple use zone. Currently, 13 concessions covering 500,000 hectares have been granted to local communities. This allows local communities to sustainably harvest wood and non-timber forest products, which helps meet livelihood needs. However, communities need to be certified in order to carry out these activities, which act as a safeguard against over exploitation. The concessions not only serve as a source of livelihood opportunities for communities, but also act as an incentive for communities to protect and sustainably manage forest resources.
Relationship to CSA
The model applied within the Maya Biosphere Reserve contributes to multiple CSA pillars.
- Productivity: Communities are able to sustainably harvest timber and other non-timber forest products which ensure a source of income and livelihoods for the communities. The model also strengthens the linkages between ecosystem services provided by the reserve with the livelihoods of local communities, which encourages sustainable use.
- Adaptation: By preserving ecosystem health, ecosystem resilience to climate change impacts is increased, and it continues to provide valuable ecosystem services to dependent communities.
- Mitigation: The Maya Biosphere reserve acts as a carbon sink and mitigates emissions. A new project led by the Rainforest Alliance, “Payment for Environmental Services Project in the Maya Biosphere Reserve”, seeks to increase this mitigation potential even further by avoiding deforestation.
Lessons learned and recommendations
The model of granting communities forest concessions has led to better forest governance, and changed the institutional and organizational landscape of the region. Simplification of the certification process for communities and the harmonization of the requirements between different certification systems is a key challenge for the future.
FAO. 2013a. Climate-Smart Agriculture: Sourcebook. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3325e.pdf Between now and 2050, the world’s population will increase by one-third. Most of these additional 2 billion people will live in developing countries. At the same time, more people will be living in cities. If current income and consumption growth trends continue, FAO estimates that agricultural production will have to increase by 60 percent by 2050 to satisfy the expected demands for food and feed. Agriculture must therefore transform itself if it is to feed a growing global population and provide the basis for economic growth and poverty reduction. Climate change will make this task more difficult under a business-as-usual scenario, due to adverse impacts on agriculture, requiring spiralling adaptation and related costs.