The Selva Maya is an area of tropical forest on the borders of Belize, Guatemala and south-east Mexico. It is the most extensive tropical forest north of the Amazon Basin and a biodiversity hotspot. The Selva Maya is under enormous pressure as a result of factors such as population growth and migration from other areas, illegal logging and the trade in flora and fauna, oil extraction and ecosystem fragmentation. Large areas of forest are being destroyed by burning for conversion to pasture and arable land. This destruction is being wrought both by the owners of large farms who practice extensive animal husbandry and by the rural, frequently poor population who depend on small-scale farming and livestock rearing.
The Selva Maya II Program (2015-2018) helps the protected area authorities in the three countries to develop planning and management instruments for the existing protected areas and to implement them effectively. In participatory planning processes support is provided to stakeholders from government and civil society (including environment, agriculture and planning ministries, local governments, producer groups, women’s groups, NGOs) to enable them to improve coordination and harmonisation of their activities in the region. Options for sustainable use of natural resources are developed with the local population. The project thus helps to raise incomes and increase food security. Key stakeholders in the three countries are helped to implement transboundary measures for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The aim is to improve coordination of activities in the border region.
These actions are embedded within the four thematic areas of the program identified as follows:
- Management of protected areas and biodiversity conservation.
- Land use planning with an Environmental Focus,
- Improvement of agriculture and livestock production, and Valuation of timber and non-timber resources and
- Coordination, cooperation and Governance