IBA Antigua Guatemala is located in the Guatemalan volcanic belt, bordered in the west by the IBA Atitlan. The site ranges in altitude from 500 to 3900 m and includes the major volcanoes Agua, Fuego (active), and Acatenango, in the surroundings of the colonial town Antigua Guatemala, as well as the active volcano Pacaya to the southeast.
IBA Antigua Guatemala is important for range-restricted species of the North Central American Highlands (15 species recorded) and for biome-restricted species of the Madrean Highlands (36 species). The site supports populations of three globally threatened species: Highland and Horned Guan (Penelopina nigra and Oreophasis derbianus), and Pink-headed Warbler (Ergaticus versicolor), according to recent bird records (Tenez 2005, Pérez 2006, González-García et al. 2006, Rivas Romero 2006, Eisermann & Avendaño 2007).
Habitat and land use
Broadleaf, mixed, and conifer forest cover in the IBA has been reduced to 23%, 66% of the area is used for agriculture: coffee plantations cover 30% of the IBA, 14% corn fields, 6% sugar cane plantations, and 3% ornamental plants. About 11% are covered by secondary growth scrub (MAGA 2006).
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
About 150 years ago began the establishment of coffee plantations, which caused an extensive loss of habitat for species like Highland Guan, which are now considered threatened. Bird populations are threatened by management deficiencies in protected areas, an advancing agricultural border, illegal logging and hunting, and forest fires.
About 30% of the IBA are legally protected, including a national park, a watershed preserve, protected zones of all volcano cones (zona de veda definitiva), and three private nature reserves (CONAP 2007).
Consejo Nacional de Areas Protegidas (CONAP) - Solola supported a workshop to identify IBAs in June 2006, hosted by University del Valle – Altiplano in Solola, and the Museum of Natural History Jorge Ibarra, hosted a workshop in Guatemala City in June 2006. Input of unpublished data and suggestions for the delimitation of the IBA were provided during these workshop by representatives of CONAP, Universidad del Valle de Guatemala - Altiplano, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, Fundación para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO) - Huehuetenango, Ministerio de Agricultura, Ganadería y Alimentación de Guatemala (MAGA) - Sololá, Cuerpo de Paz, Municipalty of Tecpán, Autoridad para el Manejo Sustentable de la Cuenca del Lago Atitlán y su Entorno (AMSCLAE), Centro de Acción Legal – Ambiental y Social de Guatemala (CALAS), and Los Tarrales Nature Reserve. This first assessment of IBAs in Guatemala was conducted by Sociedad Guatemalteca de Ornitología and BirdLife International in the Americas.