Utne Blogs > Environment

How to Include Locals, Environmentalists Disagree

 by Bennett Gordon

Tags: Environment, conservation, Guatemala, locals, logging, Earth Island Journal,

Maya Forest in Guatemala

Environmentalists are butting heads over the fate of the ancient Maya Forrest in Guatemala, according to Earth Island Journal. A confusing patchwork of governmental regulations is creating animosity and disagreement on how best to protect the 3,000 endemic species of plants and animals, the priceless artifacts inside the park, and the economic rights of the people who live there.

The government has given permits to locals for low-level, sustainable logging in the area in an effort to curb the massive deforestation inside the park. Some environmentalists insist that including locals in this way is the best way to proceed, because it gives people a stake in the environmental sustainability of the area. Others insist that stricter regulations are needed to promote international ecotourism, an effort that has been cast as “a misbegotten colonialist effort to strip Guatemalans of their jobs working the land, forcing them to drive buses and change bedsheets in tourist hotels.”

Either way, most people agree that the current path for the Maya Forrest is unsustainable. The Rainforest Alliance, for example, estimates that a quarter of the forest could disappear by 2025.

Source: Earth Island Journal 

Image by Willem van Bergen, licensed under Creative Commons.