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Lost in the woods: Forest livelihood options for people in the protected areas in the Mayan jungle


In response to an increasing pressure for ensuring human rights, many governments, particularly in South-America, have been recognizing the customary rights of their indigenous and traditional communities to land and resources. This has induced a process of devolution of land ownership, management and tenure, which has been further intensified with the concern about effects of climate change. Particularly, the sustainable use and management of forests by local communities is expected to not only guarantee the livelihood basis of poor rural families but also to contribute to an effective preservation of the remaining tropical forests. In this context, the project intends to clarify if, to what degree and under which conditions this approach is feasible. This will be achieved by analysing forest management schemes in the protected areas of the Mayan jungle. This region, shared by Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, houses the largest remaining tropical forest area in Central America and shows a wide range of forest realities providing a unique possibility for learning. The study will select representative case studies of community based forest management in the region for in-depth analysis. Interviews with the main stakeholders as well as field measurements will be realized to get information on the costs and benefits and social implications of forest-use activities. This empirical information will be used to set up scenarios for further socioeconomic analysis. A number of workshops will be undertaken to reflect and consolidate the findings from the field. The research will be elaborated in partnership with the “Conservation and sustainable use of the Selva Maya” project of the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ). The GIZ will provide access to its networks as well as logistical support for the field work. Other partnerships include the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the Galen University of Belize and the Institute of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment (IARNA) of the Rafael Landivar University of Guatemala.



Dr. Benno Pokorny


Cynthia Sosa Gomez


CONACYT (Mexico)

Duration:03/2016 – 02/2019
Partner:National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Institute of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment (IARNA), Guatemala, Galen University, Belize and the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ), Germany.


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