Farm Households and Land Use in a Core Conservation Zone of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, Guatemala


Carr, David

Journal or Book Title: Human Ecology

Keywords: Maya Biosphere Reserve; Guatemala; Land use; Deforestation; Latin America

Volume/Issue: 36/2

Page Number(s): 231-248

Year Published: 2008


This paper employs cross-tabular analysis, and multivariate and logistic regression to explore demographic, political-economic, socioeconomic, and ecological patterns of farm households and land use outcomes in an emergent agricultural frontier: the Sierra de Lacandón National Park (SLNP)-a core conservation zone of the Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR), Petén, Guatemala. Data were obtained from a 1998 probability sample of 241 farm households, the first large detailed household land use survey in Guatemala’s Selva Maya-the largest lowland tropical forest in Central America. Virtually all settler households were poor maize farmers who colonized the SLNP in search of land for subsistence. While they faced similar ecological and economic conditions, land use strategies and patterns of forest clearing varied with demographic, household, and farm characteristics. Findings support and refute elements from previous frontier land use theory and offer policy implications for conservation and development initiatives in the Maya Forest specifically, and in tropical agricultural frontiers in general.

DOI: 10.1007/s10745-007-9154-1

Type of Publication: Journal Article