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The role of remittances and decentralization of forest management in the sustainability of a municipal-communal pine forest in eastern Guatemala

The role of remittances and decentralization of forest management in the sustainability of a municipal-communal pine forest in eastern Guatemala

Environment, Development and Sustainability 14(1): 25-43

At the national scale, forest cover in Guatemala declined at an annual rate of 1.2% during the past quarter century because of settlement that removed primary forests in the northern region of the country; however, the majority of the population of Guatemala still resides in the densely populated central highlands and has extracted timber and fuelwood from adjacent forests for centuries. Using baseline data recorded in 1987 and 1996, this article reexamined the sustainability of a municipal-communal pine forest in San Jos La Arada, a municipality in eastern Guatemala. The pine forest declined from the period 1987 to 1996 because of overextraction of timber and fuelwood. Forest structure and forest use were reexamined from the period 1996 to 27 to test the hypothesis that the forest continued to decline. Forest characteristics such as stand density, basal area, tree height, and evidence of forest use were measured to replicate the procedures from previous work at the study area. To understand changes in forest structure and forest use in the context of the rise in remittances and the introduction of decentralized forest governance that emerged since 1996, a household survey was conducted in two adjacent villages. Forest structure improved from 1996 to 27. From 1996 to 27, forest characteristics such as stand density, basal area, tree height, and forest regeneration improved and evidence of forest use decreased in the municipal-communal pine forest. The influence of large amounts of remittances from the United States and other regions of Guatemala to households in the adjacent villages and the decentralization of forest governance largely explains the shift toward forest sustainability in San Jos La Arada.

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Accession: 036099386

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DOI: 10.1007/s10668-011-9307-7

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