Maya Biosphere Reserve
The Maya Biosphere Reserve (Reserva de la Biosfera Maya) is a nature reserve
Nature reserve
A nature reserve is a protected area of importance for wildlife, flora, fauna or features of geological or other special interest, which is reserved and managed for conservation and to provide special opportunities for study or research...

 in Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

 managed by Guatemala's National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP). The Maya Biosphere Reserve covers a total area of 21,602 km², which is considerably larger than Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, is a national park located primarily in the U.S. state of Wyoming, although it also extends into Montana and Idaho...


The park is home to a large number of species of fauna including the Jaguar
The jaguar is a big cat, a feline in the Panthera genus, and is the only Panthera species found in the Americas. The jaguar is the third-largest feline after the tiger and the lion, and the largest in the Western Hemisphere. The jaguar's present range extends from Southern United States and Mexico...

, the Puma, the Ocelot
The ocelot , pronounced /ˈɒsəˌlɒt/, also known as the dwarf leopard or McKenney's wildcat is a wild cat distributed over South and Central America and Mexico, but has been reported as far north as Texas and in Trinidad, in the Caribbean...

, the Margay
The Margay is a spotted cat native to Middle and South America. Named for Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied, it is a solitary and nocturnal animal that prefers remote sections of the rainforest. Although it was once believed to be vulnerable to extinction, the IUCN now lists it as "Near Threatened"...

, spider monkey
Spider monkey
Spider monkeys of the genus Ateles are New World monkeys in the subfamily Atelinae, family Atelidae. Like other atelines, they are found in tropical forests of Central and South America, from southern Mexico to Brazil...

s, howler monkey
Howler monkey
Howler monkeys are among the largest of the New World monkeys. Fifteen species are currently recognised. Previously classified in the family Cebidae, they are now placed in the family Atelidae. These monkeys are native to South and Central American forests...

s, tapir
A Tapir is a large browsing mammal, similar in shape to a pig, with a short, prehensile snout. Tapirs inhabit jungle and forest regions of South America, Central America, and Southeast Asia. There are four species of Tapirs: the Brazilian Tapir, the Malayan Tapir, Baird's Tapir and the Mountain...

s, crocodile
A crocodile is any species belonging to the family Crocodylidae . The term can also be used more loosely to include all extant members of the order Crocodilia: i.e...

s, the Red Brocket
Red Brocket
The Red Brocket , is a species of brocket deer from forests in South America, ranging from northern Argentina to Colombia and the Guianas...

 and the White-tail deers, the Harpy Eagle, several hawk
The term hawk can be used in several ways:* In strict usage in Australia and Africa, to mean any of the species in the subfamily Accipitrinae, which comprises the genera Accipiter, Micronisus, Melierax, Urotriorchis and Megatriorchis. The large and widespread Accipiter genus includes goshawks,...

 species, the Scarlet Macaw
Scarlet Macaw
The Scarlet Macaw is a large, colorful macaw. It is native to humid evergreen forests in the American tropics. Range extends from extreme south-eastern Mexico to Amazonian Peru, Bolivia and Brazil in lowlands up to up to...

, fresh water turtle
Turtles are reptiles of the order Testudines , characterised by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs that acts as a shield...

s, etc. It is also rich in flora including mahogany
The name mahogany is used when referring to numerous varieties of dark-colored hardwood. It is a native American word originally used for the wood of the species Swietenia mahagoni, known as West Indian or Cuban mahogany....

, Ceiba
Ceiba is the name of a genus of many species of large trees found in tropical areas, including Mexico, Central America, South America, The Bahamas, Belize and the Caribbean, West Africa, and Southeast Asia...

, cedar, etc. The area ranges from wetlands, to low mountain ranges, and has several bodies of water, including lakes, rivers, streams and cenote
A cenote is a deep natural pit, or sinkhole, characteristic of Mexico and Central America, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath...


The Reserve was created in 1990 to protect the largest area of tropical forest remaining in Central America. The biosphere reserve
Biosphere reserve
The Man and the Biosphere Programme of UNESCO was established in 1971 to promote interdisciplinary approaches to management, research and education in ecosystem conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.-Development:...

 model, implemented by UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

, seeks to promote a balance between human activities and the biosphere by including sustainable economic development in conservation planning.

Humans activity

The Maya Biosphere Reserve is divided into several zones, each with a different protected status. The core zones are formed by several national park
National park
A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or...

s and biotope
Biotope is an area of uniform environmental conditions providing a living place for a specific assemblage of plants and animals. Biotope is almost synonymous with the term habitat, but while the subject of a habitat is a species or a population, the subject of a biotope is a biological community.It...

s (wildlife preserves), in which no human settlement, logging, or extraction of resources are allowed. These include Laguna del Tigre National Park, Sierra del Lacandón National Park, Mirador-Río Azul National Park, Tikal National Park, El Zotz Biotope, Naachtún-Dos Lagunas Biotope, Cerro Cahuí Biotope, Laguna del Tigre Biotope, and El Pilar
El Pilar
El Pilar is an ancient Maya city center located on the Belize-Guatemala border. It can be accessed from the Cayo District in Belize, north-west of the town of San Ignacio, or from the department of El Petén in Guatemala, north of Melchor de Mencos....

 Natural Monument
Natural Monument
A natural monument is a natural or natural/cultural feature of outstanding or unique value because of its inherent rarity, representative of aesthetic qualities or cultural significance....

.. The core zones cover an area of 7670 km², which is 36% of the Maya Biosphere Reserve.

In multiple-use zones (8484.40 km²; 40%) and the buffer zone
Buffer zone
A buffer zone is generally a zonal area that lies between two or more other areas , but depending on the type of buffer zone, the reason for it may be to segregate regions or to conjoin them....

 (4975 km²; 24%), which comprises the southern portion of the Reserve, certain regulated economic activities are allowed. These include the sustainable harvesting of wood and traditional forest products which include chicle
Manilkara chicle is a tropical evergreen tree native to Mexico and Central America. The tree ranges from Veracruz in Mexico south to Atlántico in Colombia...

, a sap used in the manufacture of chewing gum, xate, an ornamental palm plant used in floral arrangements, and pimenta or allspice. The Guatemalan government has granted forest concessions to local communities, giving them the right to practice sustainable forestry in delineated areas for 25 years. International monitoring groups such as the Forest Stewardship Council
Forest Stewardship Council
The Forest Stewardship Council is an international not-for-profit, multi-stakeholder organization established in 1993 to promote responsible management of the world’s forests. Its main tools for achieving this are standard setting, independent certification and labeling of forest products...

 certify logging activities as sustainable. In 2005, 1.1 million acres (4500 km²) were certified. In other parts of the multiple-use zone, farming communities have been granted the right to continue farming in so-called agricultural polygons.

On July 16, 2008, Guatemalan president Alvaro Colom
Álvaro Colom
Álvaro Colom Caballeros is the President of Guatemala for the 2008–2012 term and leader of the social-democratic National Unity of Hope .-Early years:...

 announced the Cuatro Balam
Cuatro Balam
Cuatro Balam is an initiative by the government of Guatemala to dramatically increase tourism in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, focusing on the region's numerous archeological sites. The Reserve is a protected area of 21,602 km² in Guatemala's northernmost Petén Department...

 plan to develop mass ecotourism
Ecotourism is a form of tourism visiting fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas, intended as a low impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial tourism...

 around archaeological sites in the Maya Biosphere Reserve. Plan objectives include the development of tourist infrastructure, the installation of a small tourist train from the town of Carmelita
Carmelita may refer to:*Carmelita , feminine given name in English and Spanish*Carmelita, Belize, settlement in the Orange Walk District of Belize*Carmelita, Petén, settlement in the municipality of San Andrés, Petén Department of Guatemala...

 to El Mirador
El Mirador
El Mirador is a large pre-Columbian Mayan settlement, located in the north of the modern department of El Petén, Guatemala.-Discovery:El Mirador was first discovered in 1926, and was photographed from the air in 1930, but the remote site deep in the jungle had little more attention paid to it until...

, and the creation of a new university for the study of regional biodiversity, genetics, and Maya studies.


The Maya Biosphere Reserve is home to a large concentration of ancient Maya cities, many of which are under excavation. Tikal
Tikal is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centres of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. It is located in the archaeological region of the Petén Basin in what is now northern Guatemala...

 is the most famous of these, attracting about 120,000 to 180,000 visitors per year. Tens of other sites exist in varying states of excavation.

The Mirador Basin
Mirador Basin
The Mirador Basin is a geological depression found in the remote rainforest of the northern department of Petén, Guatemala. Mirador Basin consists of two true basins, consisting of shallowly sloping terrain dominated by low-lying swamps called bajos; one draining into the San Pedro River and the...

, in the northern part of the Reserve, contains numerous interconnected Maya cities. The area was named by Dr. Richard Hansen, Director of the Mirador Basin Project and archaeologist at El Mirador, the largest of the sites, dating from the preclassic Maya period. Other cities in the region include El Tintal
El Tintal
El Tintal is a Maya archaeological site in the northern Petén region of Guatemala, about northeast of the modern-day settlement of Carmelita, with settlement dating to the Preclassic and Classic periods. It is close to the better known sites of El Mirador , to which it was linked by causeway,...

, Nakbe
Nakbe is one of the largest early Maya archaeological sites, rivaled by El Mirador. Nakbe is located in the The Mirador Basin, in El Petén region of Guatemala, approximately 13 kilometers south of the Largest Maya city of El Mirador...

, and Wakna.

Environmental threats

Ecosystems in Maya Biosphere Reserve face numerous threats from human activities, including illegal logging, farming, and ranching in protected areas, as well as drug trafficking, poaching and looting of Maya artefacts. The forest area of the Reserve has shrunk by 13 percent over the last 21 years according to the non-profit organization Rainforest Alliance
Rainforest Alliance
The Rainforest Alliance is a non-governmental organization with the published aims of working to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. It is based in New York City, and has offices throughout the...

, which has several community development projects in the region. Some of the most extreme deforestation has occurred in the Laguna del Tigre and Sierra del Lancandon National Parks. Resources are scarce for the protection of the Reserve by guards and park rangers, and the area is often considered a lawless wilderness.

Several local organizations, including ProPetén and ACOFOP have made significant contributions to local management of natural and cultural resources.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.