In the Land of the Maya, a Battle for a Vital Forest

October 10, 2012

Threats loom within Guatemala's Maya Biosphere Reserve, a vast natural sanctuary that protects more than 5 million acres. Jaguars, pumas, monkeys, and tapirs are some of the species fighting to survive in a place jeopardized by drug cartels, illegal logging, and commercial hunting.

Central America's largest expanse of rainforest: the Maya Biosphere Reserve. This natural haven covers some 60 percent of Guatemala, affording protection to scarlet macaws, jaguars, and countless other forest-dwelling creatures. Although WCS has achieved success in the region, having recently celebrated a new crop of scarlet macaw fledglings, new threats imperil Central America's vast forest.

Criminal activity has escalated, joining threats that commonly affect tropical areas (illegal logging, fires, and commercial hunting). Roan McNab, director of WCS's Guatemala Program, considers the story of the Maya Biosphere Reserve a tale of two reserves. "One of conservation successes," he says, "and one of failures."

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