Sierra de las Minas - Motagua

Year of compilation: 2008

Site description
Sierra de las Minas-Motagua includes the Sierra de las Minas mountain range with the largest continuous cloud forest in Guatemala, Sierra de Chuacús, and the adjoining Motagua valley, which is the driest area in Central America. The IBA ranges in elevation from 50 to 3000 m.

Key biodiversity
Sierra de las Minas-Motagua is important for range-restricted species of the North Central American Highlands (14 species recorded), biome-restricted species of the Madrean Highland (34 species) and the Pacific Arid Slope (6 species). The site supports populations of five globally threatened species, of which four are breeding residents: Highland and Horned Guan (Penelopina nigra and Oreophasis derbianus), Keel-billed Motmot (Electron carinatum), and Pink-headed Warbler (Ergaticus versicolor). Golden-cheeked Warblers (Dendroica chrysoparia) winter in pine-oak forests on the southern slope of Sierra de las Minas.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Natural habitat and bird populations are threatened by an advancing agricultural border, forest fires, illegal logging and hunting (ParksWatch 2002). Management deficiencies in the protected areas allow human intervention.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Recent species inventories have been elaborated at Sierra de las Minas (Robbins & Dowell 1992, Dowell et al. 1994, Seglund & Conner 1997, Ponciano 1998, Eisermann 1999, Nájera 2004a), Biotopo del Quetzal (Bardolf & Bauer 1992), Motagua valley (Pérez 2003, Nájera 2004b, 2006). Several studies focused on the distribution and ecology of Golden-cheeked Warbler (Thompson 1995, Rappole et al. 1999, 2000, 2003) and Horned Guan (Rivas Romero & Cóbar Carranza 2005).

Protected areas
About 57% of the IBA are legally protected, including a biosphere reserve, a national park, a protected biotope, six regional parks, and 33 private nature reserves (CONAP 2007). Conservation of the Motagua valley thorn scrub has received attention until recently (Valle et al. 1999, Nájera 2006), promoted especially by Fundación Defensores de la Naturaleza and The Nature Conservancy.

Habitat and land use
About 39% of this IBA is covered by humid evergreen broadleaf forests, including approximately 120000 ha of cloud forest. Scrub, of which the major part is natural thorn scrub, covers 38%. About 22% of the IBA is used for agriculture (mainly corn fields, coffee and cardamom plantations, fruit plantations, and cattle farming) (MAGA 2006).

Land ownership
State, communal, and private.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sierra de las Minas - Motagua. Downloaded from on 19/09/2020.