Management Guidance Procedure slated for Guatemala

29/06/1997


Forthcoming Management Guidance Procedure for
Laguna del Tigre, Guatemala

Guatemala became a Contracting Party to the Ramsar Convention in 1990 and included the "Biotopo Laguna del Tigre" as its first site for the List of Wetlands of International Importance. In 1995 the Government included "Manchón-Guamuchal", a mangrove area on the Pacific coast, and in 1996 the "Refugio de Vida Silvestre Bocas del Polochic", a portion of the Lago Izabal on the Caribbean slope.

Three NGOs work together with the Guatemalan Ramsar Administrative Authority, the Comisión Nacional de Areas Protegidas (CONAP), in the conservation and management of these sites : "Laguna del Tigre" is managed by the Centro de Estudios Conservacionistas (CECON), "Manchón-Guamuchal" by the Fundación Interamericana para la Investigación Tropical, and "Bocas del Polochic" by the Defensores de la Naturaleza. All three sites have received financial assitance from the Small Grants Fund in different years since 1992.

The "Biotopo Laguna del Tigre" (48,372 ha) is state-owned and is the central part of the "Biosphere Reserve Maya" (1.5 million hectares), situated on the Mexican slope in the province of Petén.

The Ramsar criteria cited for inclusion of "Laguna del Tigre" in the List of Wetlands of International Importance were:

  • 2a) it supports an appreciable assemblage of rare, vulnerable or endangered species or subspecies of plant or animal, or an appreciable number of individuals of any one or more of these species; and
  • 2d) it is of special value for one or more endemic plant or animal species or communities.

"Laguna del Tigre" was included in the Montreux Record in June 1993 because of changes in the ecological character of the site taking place as a result of oil drilling and unplanned human settlements. In late 1996 the Government of Guatemala requested the application of the Management Guidance Procedure at this Ramsar site, and the organization of the mission and its visit to the country is well advanced. The mission will visit "Laguna del Tigre" from 21 July to 3 August, and will consist, at the request of the Government authorities, of three external experts who will be accompanied by Guatemalan counterparts :

  • one expert in mitigation of oil exploitation activities;
  • one expert in community participation and conflict management; and
  • the Regional Coordinator for the Neotropics, from the Ramsar Bureau.

The team is expected to meet with relevant professionals, spend several days in the field analyzing the impacts of the oil activities and the conflicts between conservation, oil exploitation, and local communities' interest, prepare a report with an analysis of the situation and suggestions and alternatives concerning potential mechanisms for a multiple and sustainable use of resources in the area, including mitigation measures, which will benefit mainly the local inhabitants without detriment to the conservation of the area.

The Management Guidance Procedure is expected to be a useful tool for the conservation and wise use of the "Biotopo Laguna del Tigre", with input from external experts and professionals, but it is not meant as a substitute for the existing knowledge and experience already present among Guatemalan professionals. It is hoped this experience will result in a useful exercise for other countries in the region, especially in Central America.

-- reported by Montserrat Carbonell,
Regional Coordinator for the Neotropics


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