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Guatemala’s Forest Concessions: A Global Conservation Model

Communities in Guatemala’s majestic 5 million-acre Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR) are making a living from forest-based businesses—while protecting the forest. Following the post-civil war 1996 peace accords, the government granted these communities the right to use the forest, as long as they did so sustainably. Has the concession model worked as a conservation strategy? Let’s put in this way: The deforestation rate in the concessions is nearly zero—whereas adjacent, strictly “protected” areas suffer some of the worst deforestation rates in the Americas.

Burning Peruvian forest - photo by Mohsin Kazmi

Forests are falling at an alarming rate.

Each minute, 85 acres are destroyed.

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