Conservation in Laguna del Tigre National Park
“Ninety-eight percent of fires are caused by people, by human activity, for various purposes [including] for hunting, for changes in land use,” – National Protected Areas Council (CONAP) executive secretary Elder Figueroa1
Although the fire spread north and away from our study area, the fires burned for several weeks, and destroyed a huge swath of habitat and a critical time for nesting birds, including the rare scarlet macaw (Ara macao cyanoptera).
“One of the forest fires of particular concern in the Laguna del Tigre National Park is in the area of El Perú-Waka’, an important Mayan archaeological site. The last remaining scarlet macaw (Ara macao) nesting area in Guatemala is located in that same area. The park is also home to more than 180 other bird species, the endangered Baird’s tapir (Tapirus bairdii), and iconic near-threatened species like the jaguar (Panthera onca)1 “.
Eventually the combined efforts of the Guatemalan Army, and helicopters from Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador, along with a heavy downpour of rain, finally put the fires out.
With the emergency finally over, my thoughts turn to the recovery of the forest and the creatures that call it home. We know that the forest will come back, it has before. Much of the region was felled by the ancient Mayan. So if Laguna del Tigre is given a chance, it will recover again.
I believe our job as conservationists is not to “preserve” things as we once remember them to be. But rather to encourage resilience and strength in what natural areas remain. We do this in the hope that that resilience and strength will give Mother Earth the best chance of adapting and recovering from any future sudden or drastic change.
– Rowland Griffin
Global Forest Watch shows fires occurring in and around Maya Biosphere Reserve between April 4 11, 2017. Many are concentrated in Laguna del Tigre National Park, where a clusters of fires are burning in forest near Guatemala’s last scarlet macaw breeding site.