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Ecotourism Project Description

This project promotes ecotourism to benefit Uaxactun villagers by focusing on ecotourists that reach the Tikal National Park and the communities around Lake PetÚn Itza, in Peten, Guatemala. Advertising of opportunities for ecotourists interested in experiencing a "forest village" environment are being developed.

Negotiations with the Tikal National Park have been initiated to develop a kiosk in the park that advertises Uaxactun and sells maize dolls and other village handicrafts. The core of this project involves the development of a 25 kilometer trail with 3 "miradores", or lookout points, built on top of trees. The miradores will be linked by an improved trail running inside the Uaxactun concession, in areas that will be zoned for xate and chicle collection. Xate and chicle are Non Timber Forest Products.  Uaxactun villagers have proposed no hunting areas around the miradores, effectively promoting the establishment of small wildlife refuges along the trail to enhance opportunities for ecotourists interested in wildlife viewing.

A village ecotourism coordinator will work in conjunction with Ecotourism and Adventure Specialists and established village interests including: El Chiclero Camp, Uaxactun’s Eco-Cultural Guide Association and the Eco-Camping facility in Uaxactun. The coordinator will also be responsible for overseeing village construction of the miradores and trails.

A Peace Corps Volunteer will be solicited from Peace Corps Guatemala to help oversee the process. Training workshops for guides and restaurant owners will be provided by Ecotourism and Adventure Specialists' staff, to prepare Uaxactun villagers to be able to meet the needs of ecotourists.

The village is discussing a small ecotourism tax to be given voluntarily by all village industries that benefit from ecotourism. This tax will be paid to OMYC- Organization for Management and Conservation- and will be used for Uaxactun’s kiosk maintenence in the Tikal National Park and for kiosk-staff salary.

Ecotourism and Adventure Specialists voluntarily offered to award OMYC 5% of all net earnings from any ecotourists taken to, or through Uaxactun for its projects and for additional equipment and training for the Uaxactun Guide Association.

As a non-governmental, non-for-profit organization WCS’s role will ensure financial transparency. WCS scientific and technical assistance is invaluable for this project’s success. The integration of the ecotourism component to the other projects WCS is carrying out in Uaxactun ensures a consistent conservation strategy and a future for this important part of the Maya Biosphere Reserve and Uaxactun’s Forest Society.

We believe this is a good example of how private enterprise, local villagers and conservation organizations may join efforts for conservation working as a team and contributing their resources and their skills, each doing what they do best!


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