Guatemalan Caribbean Slope

Site description (2008 baseline):

Site location and context
Guatemalan Caribbean Slope includes lowland and lower montane habitats, including Lake Izabal and the delta of the Polochic river. The IBA ranges in elevation from sea level to 1300 m, and is bordered by Belize in the north and Honduras in the south.

Key biodiversity
Guatemalan Caribbean Slope is important for biome-restricted species of the Gulf Caribbean Slope (17 species recorded). Four globally threatened species occur regularly in the IBA. The site supports the only breeding population of Yellow-headed Parrot (Amazona oratrix) in Guatemala (Eisermann 2003). Highland Guan (Penelopina nigra) has been recorded in the cloud forests near the Honduran border (Cerezo & Ramírez 2003, Eisermann et al. 2006), and Keel-billed Motmot (Electron carinatum) has been recorded at several sites (Eisermann 2005, Eisermann & Avendaño 2007). Cerulean Warbler (Dendroica cerulea) occurs regularly during migration (Cerezo et al. 2005, Welton et al. 2007).

Habitat and land use
About 41% of this IBA is covered by humid evergreen broadleaf forests, including small patches of mangroves. Vegetated wetlands, lakes and lagoons, rivers, and beach habitat cover 20%. About 37% of the IBA is used for agriculture (mainly cattle farming, secondary growth scrub, banana and oil palm plantations) (MAGA 2006).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Natural habitat and bird populations are threatened by an advancing agricultural border, forest fires, illegal logging and hunting, overharvest of fish, and pollution of wetlands (ParksWatch 2003, Eisermann 2006). Management deficiencies in the protected areas allow human intervention.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Recent species inventories have been elaborated at several sites, so at Cerro San Gil (Cerezo et al. 2005), Punta de Manabique (Eisermann 2001), Sierra del Merendón (Cerezo & Ramírez 2003), Sierra Santa Cruz (Seglund & Conner 1997, Pérez 1998, Cerezo & Ramírez 2002), Biotopo Chocón Machacas (Pérez Consuegra et al. 2001), Bocas del Polochic (Seglund & Conner 1997), and Río Sarstún (Rodríguez & Cerezo 2001). Continuous effort monitoring of bird populations is conducted at Cerro San Gil by Fundación para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is monitoring West Nile Virus in bird populations.

Protected areas
About 35% of this IBA are legally protected, including two wildlife refuges, a watershed preserve, two national parks, a regional park, a multiple use area, a protected biotope, and 15 private nature reserves (CONAP 2007). Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge, Bocas del Polochic Wildlife Refuge, and Rio Sarstun Multiple Use Area have been designated as important wetlands under the Ramsar convention.

Land ownership
State (National Parks and other protected areas), communal, and private.

Workshops to identify IBAs were hosted by the Museum of Natural History Jorge Ibarra, in Guatemala City in June 2006, and by Wildlife Conservation Society - Guatemala in Peten in July 2006. Input of unpublished data and suggestions for the delimitation of the IBA were provided during these workshop by representatives of Consejo Nacional de Areas Protegidas (CONAP), ProPeten, Wildlife Conservation Society - Guatemala, Tikal National Park, Asociación de Rescate y Conservación de Animales Silvestres (ARCAS), Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza, Fundación para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO), Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, Biotopo del Quetzal, and Centro de Acción Legal – Ambiental y Social de Guatemala (CALAS). This first assessment of IBAs in Guatemala was conducted by Sociedad Guatemalteca de Ornitología and BirdLife International in the Americas.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Guatemalan Caribbean Slope. Downloaded from on 28/11/2023.