FSC Stories 2021

Community Forestry: Reducing Forest Fires in Guatemala’s Mayan Biosphere Reserve

Globally the number of forest fires increased in 2021, severely damaging the world’s major forests and devastating ecosystems, communities, and wildlife. 

Forest fires increase air pollution, negatively impact climate change, trigger higher temperatures and dry environments, which in turn increases the risk of more fires. 

  • Humans are responsible for around 75 per cent of all forest fires. (According to WWF & Boston Consulting Group) 
  • Tropical savannas constitute 19 per cent of total land cover & account for 85 per cent of area burned annually.
  • Sustainable forest management stands out as an effective way to significantly reduce the occurrence of forest fires. 
  • Guatemala’s Mayan Biosphere Reserve (MBR) is the largest complex of protected areas in Central America, with an area of ​​21,600 km²
  • The MBR was created with the purpose of preserving the natural and cultural heritage for present and future generations.
  • It comprises a network of more than two dozen different management units – 11 units are 25-year forest concessions – 9 of which are managed by local communities who obtain wood and other forest products.
  • 476,845 ha of the MBR are FSC certified (divided into 9 communities & 2 private concessions).

Over the past 30 years, the results achieved due to responsible forest management in the MBR are worth highlighting:

  • Almost zero deforestation (0.4 per cent), contributing to maintaining 70 per cent of the state of conservation of the MBR.
  • In the communities, levels of child malnutrition are lower, school attendance rates are higher, and there is little migration.
  • More than 1.5 and up to 11.3 jaguars per 100 km², the highest reported values ​​of the species in the country.
  • Less than 1 per cent of forest fires impact community forest concession areas.

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