Threats to the forests

The rate of deforestation in Guatemala is estimated at 900 km2 a year (INAB 2002; see Table 2), 73 per cent within broad-leaved forest and 23 per cent in coniferous forest. According to projections carried out by the National Forestry Institute (INAB), this rate of deforestation will result in the elimination of the country's forest cover in approximately 40 years. The montane ecosystem (forests between 1500-3000 m) is one of the most threatened because of demographic pressure leading to conversion to agricultural land and exploitation for firewood, and because of climate change (Islebe et al. 1995, Islebe & Veliz-Perez 2001). The sub-alpine forests of Guatemala (found between 31503800 m) are subject to particular pressure and will probably disappear in the next few years if no immediate action is taken (Islebe 1996).

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