Guatemalans

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The Chiquibul National Park is the largest protected area in Belize and shares a 45 km border with Guatemala along which there are approximately 65 communities with a combined population of over 40,000 inhabitants. These communities depend on agriculture for their subsistence but they have already cleared and deteriorated much of their land. Due to extreme poverty, overpopulation and political instability in Guatemala, the Guatemalans cross the Belize border into the Chiquibul in search of a source of income to support their families. When they cross the border they set up camp and practice slash and burn agriculture because the land in Belize is arable. They have cleared as much as 6,227 acres so far in the Chiquibul Forest.

http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/74448

http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/74448

The Guatemalans, also known as xateros, travel throughout the Chiquibul and illegally extract xate palms from which they earn less than $5 a day. While extracting xate, they also poach animals, which is often their only source of protein, as well as illegally log mahogany and mine for gold. Illegal mahogany logging has recently become a greater concern than xate extraction because the illegal loggers are more violent because mahogany is more valuable. Therefore, in order to sustainably solve the threats to the Chiquibul Forest, the Guatemalans need an integrated farming system as well as alternative sources of income, such as beekeeping and the production of honey to sustain their livelihoods. Such methods are currently being implemented in the Vaca Forest Reserve however, this endeavor is time and cost intensive. Therefore, FCD is currently prioritizing efforts on reactive management but one of their goals for the future is preventative management such as sustainable livelihoods. FCD is currently working with Asociacion Balam in Guatemala on bi-lateral management.