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Poverty, deforestation and land tenure institutions: The case of the communities living in Guatemala's Maya Biosphere Reserve

by Milian, Bayron

Abstract (Summary)
The Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR) is the largest and most important conservation area in Guatemala, covering over 21,000 km2 . Because the Biosphere Reserve is home to over 58,000 people, environmental stabilization is deeply dependent on residents' use of the land. Initial governmental efforts to reduce migration and deforestation threats included designing land tenure regimes such as private lands, forest concessions and communal concessions in different zones of the Biosphere. Despite these measures, high rates of deforestation continue and are concentrated in Laguna del Tigre and Sierra de Lacandón National Parks. Previous research has shown a connection between land tenure and deforestation, but has not connected these to community well-being indicators. In this project seventy four communities located mainly around both National Parks were categorized into three land tenure regimes: communal, state protected and private. Using ANOVA and regression analysis, the regimes were compared to population, community well-being indicators (education, services, and economy), and analyzed for association with cumulative deforestation from 1986 to 2006. The analysis occurs in two scales or levels-at the level of the community (N = 74) and also at the level of privately owned lands, commonly called "parcels" in Petén (N = 1,510). Results indicate that the three regimes differ in cumulative deforestation and well being indicators, and these differences are statistically significant. Two explanatory regression models at community and parcel level were elaborated. In the first model dealing with community, the variables showing positive associations with cumulative deforestation are population size, cattle ranching, agriculture and alternative economy. The variables showing negative associations are schooling and communal and private regimes. Among the land tenure regimes, communal regime shows the best performance in the period under study, having the highest community well being index and lowest cumulative deforestation when compared to private and protected area regimes. In the second model dealing with households holding private parcels, the variables showing positive associations with cumulative deforestation are family size and total area of the parcel, and the variable showing a negative association is duration of occupation of the farm. Private parcel ownership was evaluated for associations between cumulative deforestation and ethnicity, and no statistically significant differences were found between ladino and Maya farms.
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Advisor:

School:University of Massachusetts Amherst

School Location:USA - Massachusetts

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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