Selva Maya Natural Resources Protection


Selva Maya Natural Resources Protection

The Project


The German Cooperation, through the KfW (German development bank) supports the regional conservation initiative structured around agreements between the nations of Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico, to preserve cultural, historical and biological resources in this vital landscape for Central America and the world. The Selva Maya Natural Resources Protection Project is commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany (BMZ) to the KfW and implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The project’s objective is to maintain the ecosystem functions and cultural values of the Selva Maya that promote the welfare of its people and provides environmental services of global importance.

Selva Maya is a strategic block of important natural ecosystems. It is the second largest tropical forest of America, after the Amazon rainforest. It possesses an extraordinary diversity of endemic and endangered species, as well as important sites of historical and cultural heritage. This landscape located between Belize, Guatemala and the southeast of Mexico, covers 42,300 square kilometers in a corridor of protected natural areas in which different categories of management converge. In some cases, these areas are separated by international boundaries but united by conservation and sustainable management efforts by governments, civil society and cooperation agencies, among other relevant actors.

However, Selva Maya is exposed to great pressures that threaten its sustainability in the short and long term. The main causes are forest fires, illegal logging and the exploitation of the flora and fauna, along with non-sustainable agriculture.


The main challenge is to protect and conserve Selva Maya through capacity building of government and non-government stakeholders, as well as local communities, in order to improve their skills and techniques in protected areas management and sustainable production practices in connectivity areas.

Project implementation will be coordinated and co-executed by the institutions responsible for protected areas in the region represented by the Strategic Coordination Group (GEC) composed by:

  • Forest Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Environment and Sustainable Development of Belize (MAFFESD).
  • National Council of Protected Areas of Guatemala (CONAP as per the Spanish acronym).
  • National Commission of Natural Protected Areas of Mexico (CONANP as per the Spanish acronym).


In order to comply with the general objective of this project, the following results were defined and are expected to be achieved through the strategic measures established for each of them:

1. The protected areas of the Selva Maya have improved their management effectiveness

  • Control and surveillance intensification in protected areas
  • Improvement of the integrated monitoring of the protected areas

For the implementation of these measures, equipping and improvement of monitoring tools is being carried out as well as promoting joint patrols between areas of the same country and cross-border.

  • Development and implementation of the management plans of the protected areas

It is necessary to conserve the Mayan cultural heritage through strengthening governance mechanisms (indigenous peoples, local communities, NGOs) to improve the effective management of the areas, based on reference standards such as the Green List and the creation of a regional standard for the Selva Maya.

2. The protected areas of the Selva Maya have improved their connectivity

Development of fire prevention and control actions
Capacity building of the communities, brigades and rangers is carried out year by year, through the acquisition of equipment for local groups and the development of courses and training on prevention and control.

  • Prevent deforestation and maintain the ecosystems health
  • Establishment of forest landscape restoration / agroforestry systems actions

The control and monitoring of the actions that cause land use changes and the degradation of the protected areas is strengthened, and economic alternatives and sustainable production methods are fostered, thus reducing the pressure on natural resources.

3. The coordination between Belize, Guatemala and Mexico is strengthened for conservation and sustainable management actions for the Selva Maya

  • Through continuous support to the Strategic Coordination Group (GEC as per the Spanish acronym) composed by CONAP, CONANP and MAFFESD, the work in the Selva Maya is strengthened as a block of continuous conservation under the regional coordinated work.


Internacional Union for Conservation of Nature

Regional office for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean

Country office – Guatemala
5ta. Avenida 5 – 55, zona 14 Edificio Europlaza
Torre III, 8vo. Nivel Oficina 804
T +502 2363-2070, +502 2363-2327, +502 2363-2469
E [email protected]