Forests play an important role in Guatemala. They provide a source of income and household products for many poor and a resource for the commercial timber sector. However, SFM has been hindered in the past by, among other things, a protracted civil war, and deforestation was widespread. As the lowland rainforests of the Petén are also opened up, the sector is attempting to improve forest management. Great strides are being made by both private operators and communities, to the extent that more than half the production PFE is now considered to be under SFM.
- The PFE comprises an estimated 1.14 million hectares of natural-forest production forest, 71,000 hectares of plantations and 1.24 million hectares of protection forest.
- At least 672,000 hectares of production PFE are estimated to be under SFM; insufficient data were available to estimate the area of protection PFE so managed.
- The system of protected areas and the monitoring of biodiversity have both been long established. However, information on the status of their management is lacking.
- A large part of the natural forest estate in the highlands has been over-harvested, and development is proceeding rapidly in the Petén.
- Enormous efforts have been made since the end of the civil war to reorganize the control and management of forest resources; this has included the decentralization of management and monitoring. But support for existing community forest management institutions remains weak.
- There is long-standing experience in the management of conifer forests. The recent implementation of a well-defined concession management policy in moist forest areas also constitutes a solid basis for SFM.
- Forest management certification has been widely introduced with the support of international donors in the community concessions in the Petén, but its long-term prospects will depend on its financial viability once donor support is withdrawn.