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, Uaxactuns 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 Uaxactuns 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 WCSs role will ensure financial transparency. WCS scientific and
technical assistance is invaluable for this projects 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 Uaxactuns 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!