To help conserve tropical biodiversity, we devised a project with two main goals. One goal was to assist in the conservation of forest and its associated life forms in a particular area--the "Maya Forest" region of Guatemala, Belize, and México. The second goal was to provide knowledge that would be transferable to other areas and situations--knowledge that might help broadly in the cause of tropical conservation. Hence we developed a project with the following three components:
Our research focused on forest-dependent birds of prey and documenting their basic ecology and their habitat and spatial needs. We also studied other members of the bird community, including North American migrants. We focused on land uses prevalent in the area, and on how these affect the forest and its fauna.
Development of Human Resources
The Maya Project involved more than 100 local people, many of them for several years. Much training was conducted within the project, and support was provided for college education of several individuals. Many participants became highly skilled ecological field technicians and several progressed far beyond the technician level. We also conducted environmental education within local primary schools.
In addition to studying the way in which commercial logging and shifting cultivation interact with the forest biota and with conservation goals, we worked directly with local farmers, to help them adopt new methods that would allow them to cease cutting down additional forest for farming purposes.