Montecristo is a mountain range divided by the border between Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, ranging in elevation from 700 to 2300 m.
IBA Montecristo is important for biome-restricted birds of the Madrean Highlands, including a population of the globally threatened Highland Guan (Penelopina nigra). The site is expected to be important for a large number of species restricted to the North Central American Highlands, based on data from the El Salvadoran part (Komar 2000, 2002). Because of data deficiency the Guatemalan part does currently not apply under the criterion of importance for range-restricted species. Little ornithological research has been carried out in Guatemala (Herrera et al. 1998, Eisermann 2006).
Habitat and land use
Forest cover has been reduced to 39% of the IBA, and 60% are used for agriculture. Coffee plantations cover 31% of the IBA, corn fields 10%, and secondary growth scrub 19% (MAGA 2006). Plane areas among the hilly landscape are used for cattle farming (Eisermann 2006).
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The establishment of coffee plantations up to an elevation of 1700 m caused an extensive loss of habitat for species like Highland Guan, which is now considered threatened. The cultivation of Beaucarnea sp. (Liliaceae) has been introduced to the area around the year 2000, which caused an additional loss of cloud forests up to an elevation of 1900 m (Eisermann 2006). Even the highest and most remote forests are therefore threatened by fragmentation and forest fires. The Biosphere Reserve is not appropriately managed to protect natural habitat.
The extension of this IBA is identical to the Trifinio Biosphere Reserve (CONAP 2007).
The Museum of Natural History Jorge Ibarra, hosted a workshop in Guatemala City in June 2006. This first assessment of IBAs in Guatemala was conducted by Sociedad Guatemalteca de Ornitología and BirdLife International in the Americas.