Presentation by Cynthia Sosa Gomez at the 1st Belize National Research Conference, March 2018.
In response to an increasing pressure for ensuring human rights, many governments, particularly in South America, have been recognizing the customary rights of their indigenous and traditional communities to land and resources. This has induced a process of devolution of land ownership, management and tenure, which has been further intensified with the concern about effects of climate change. Particularly, the sustainable use and management of forests by local communities is expected to guarantee the livelihood basis of poor rural families while also contributing to an effective preservation of the remaining tropical forests. The study intends to answer the question if, to which degree and under which conditions can forests be a livelihood-generating option for local forest communities. This will be achieved by analyzing forest management schemes in the protected areas of the Mayan jungle. This region, shared by Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, houses the largest remaining tropical forest area in Central America and shows a wide range of forest realities providing a unique possibility for learning. In this first phase of the study, five forest management schemes and five community context scenarios have been recognized and developed based on the information found on the field through semi-structured interviews with government and non-government organizations, local forest community members and academia members, as well as a literature review.
Key words: climate change, Maya, mesoamerican forest, land use