Preserving the PetÚn Rainforest

The PetÚn rainforest's Mirador Basin is the last tract of virgin rainforest remaining in Central America. It is home to the largest and earliest cities in the Maya world and is the area of many recent and important archaeological investigations. The northern PetÚn gives Guatemala legitimate claim to the title "The Cradle of Maya Civilization." Protecting the PetÚn rainforest not only shelters Guatemala's historical birthright, it fosters a core element of Guatemala's economic future.

Support is urgently needed to continue research and documentation of the origins and collapse of the ancient Maya in this area. A multi-disciplinary study of northern Guatemala is necessary because of the unique archaeological sites and natural environment which are now threatened. These sites and surrounding tropical forest are important to understanding the natural and cultural systems of ancient Mesoamerica.

Support of the Mirador Basin Project will retard the growth of slash and burn farming, looting and indiscriminate commercial development which threatens the region. The development of this region as a wilderness archaeological preserve guarantees short, medium and long-term economic benefits for the inhabitants of Guatemala. The economic benefits of tourism far outweigh the economic returns from logging. The Mirador Basin development hopes to include the area as a roadless preserve but with tourist accessibility, community participation, and harvesting of renewable resources (xate, chicle, pimienta) by community organizations.

The proposed Mirador Basin wilderness preserve and associated development is a project of inestimable prestige. It's cultural value, vision and scope elevates Guatemala to a prominent position among tourist destinations in the world. In importance and visibility, it will provide new scientific and economic opportunities.

The Mirador Basin is as critical to Guatemala in the 21st century as the ancient cities of Nakbe, El Mirador, Wakna, Tintal, Xulnal, Paixban, and Naachtun were in the Maya world. As the only surviving rain forest area is protected and archaeological sites developed, the basin will be a magnet for academic research, education, conservation, and economic opportunities for surrounding communities. The development of the needed domestic infrastructure to service the requirements of both academic interests and international tourism will provide Guatemala with an economic self-sustaining annuity.

Your support enables the highest quality, multi-disciplinary research teams from the U.S., Guatemala, Canada, Europe, and other countries to continue exploration, excavation, analysis, consolidation, and conservation of some of the largest sites in the Maya World. The amount of support needed is great. How much progress is made and at what pace is directly proportional to the funding received.

Dr. Richard Hansen and the Mirador Basin Project (formerly known as the Regional Archaeological Investigation of the Northern PetÚn, Guatemala) continue to work in the basin in close collaboration with the government of Guatemala. This team has the capability and vision to make the Mirador Basin a reality for world-class tourism benefits.

Guatemala is twice blessed. Its historical and cultural heritage is rooted in one of the greatest civilizations on the planet. The diverse physical resources include an area of virgin rainforest. Guatemala now stands at a crossroad. We must actively seek to help protect, preserve, and develop these great resources, because they are irreplaceable.

The Department of PetÚn is unique. Archaeological investigations have just scratched the surface. The greatest discoveries are yet to be made. Eco-tourism and community education will allow Guatemala to share its many resources and its heritage with the world.

The Mirador Basin preserve is a path to greater scientific and environmental progress, economic growth, and international prestige.

Share the vision! Support The Mirador Basin Project.