Maya - Lacandón

Year of compilation: 2008

Site description
The extension of the IBA Maya-Lacandon is almost identical to the Maya Biosphere Reserve, which covers the northern part of the province Peten, equaling 19% of the country. This area forms together with forests in Belize and the Mexican states of Campeche and Quintana Roo the largest Neotropical forest north of the Amazon basin. It is an important continental stronghold for species requiring large forested areas.

Key biodiversity
More than 400 bird species have been recorded in the northern Peten (Beavers 1992). The site is important for 25 species restricted to the Gulf Caribbean Slope. One of the country's largest wetlands–Laguna del Tigre National Park and surroundings–is located in the northwestern part of the IBA. Based on a continental population estimate (Wetlands International 2006) and local estimates (Eisermann 2006), it is assumed that the site holds important parts of regional populations of Bare-throated Tiger-Heron (Tigrisoma mexicanum), Least Grebe (Tachybaptus dominicus), and Wood Stork (Mycteria americana).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The Maya Biosphere Reserve lacks adequate management, leading in some parts to considerable habitat loss by forest fires, illegal logging, unsustainable use of non-timber forest resources, conversion to agricultural land, and oil exploitation (ParksWatch 2002a-d, 2003a-c, 2005). Extensive habitat loss is expected if all of the recently proposed road constructions are carried out (Amor Conde et al. 2007, Ramos et al. 2007), leading to a projected loss of more than 183000 ha of forest by the year 2025 (Ramos et al. 2007).

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
The Peregrine Fund researched the raptor community (see references of Baker, Burnham, Gerhardt, Thorstrom, Whitacre, and co-authors). Rapid ecological assessments in several protected areas were carried out by Conservation International (Bestelmeyer & Alonso 2000), CECON (Pérez Consuegra et al. 2001), and Wildlife Conservation Society - Guatemala (Radachowsky et al. 2004). Impact of hunting activity has been studied by Morales (1993a,b) and Morales & Morales (1998). Currently Wildlife Conservation Society - Guatemala monitors populations of indicator species (large mammals, Scarlet Macaws Ara macao, and Ocellated Turkeys Meleagris ocellata) and the impact of human activities on the Maya Biosphere Reserve (McNab et al. 2004, Ramos et al. 2007).

Protected areas
The IBA is entirely legally protected, with exception of Lake Peten Itza (CONAP 2007). The site contains several National Parks and Protected Biotopes, in addition to an expansive Multiple Use Zone. Two National Parks, Laguna del Tigre and Yaxhá-Nakum-Naranjo, have been designated as important wetlands under the Ramsar convention. The area is severely threatened by management deficiencies.

Habitat and land use
About 80% of that IBA is covered by humid to semi-deciduous broadleaf forests. Open and human altered habitats cover currently about 17% (MAGA 2006).

Land ownership
State (National Parks and other protected areas), communal (buffer zone of the Maya Biosphere Reserve), and private.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Maya - Lacandón. Downloaded from on 25/11/2020.