Threats to the Mirador Basin

The Mirador Basin is highly threatened as the last intact section of rainforest in Central America. The following sequence of images shows how agriculturalists, cattle ranchers, arsonists, looters, and drug traffickers have destroyed the western PetÚn rainforest of the Maya Biosphere Reserve. All images are provided courtesy of MODIS Rapid Response Project at NASA / GFSC.

On March 19, 2003, satellites using thermal imagery show the major fires of the western PetÚn and surrounding regions. Note that the areas within the Mirador Basin and the logging concessions were initially protected from the fires.

By April 16, the fires of the western PetÚn had essentially destroyed the entire Laguna de Tigre area.

By April 20, the fires had invaded the areas of the logging concessions. Arsonists, cattle ranchers, and agriculturalists entered into the area through the roads that had been placed to extract the logs. Also note the dense smoke that by this time had become so thick that schools in Huston, Texas were forced to close.

By April 23, 2003, in barely one month's time, the remainder of the western PetÚn had burned with the exception of a few small areas protected by the logging concessions, the roadless Mirador Basin, as well as the areas of Tikal, the northeastern PetÚn, and the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve of Mexico.

FARES and its partners in conservation seek to have a roadless wilderness reserve established in the Mirador Basin. This reserve would provide tourist accessibility to world-class archaeological sites and, in close cooperation with the Guatemalan government, would establish a strong community education and development program. Read more about how the Mirador Basin Project is working to protect and preserve the PetÚn rainforest.

Learn more about how you can support the conservation of this area.