The Socio-Economic Role of Xate: A Case Study from a Returnee Community in the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala

Ingrid Nesheim, Kristi Anne Stølen


Migrant populations have been blamed for over-harvesting natural resources threatening the long-term viability of the natural resource base. It has been argued that they over-harvest because they lack skills and experience. Chamaedorea sp., is one of the few non-timber forest products with which a significant number of agricultural households in rural Petén supplement their income. This paper presents a case study of the harvest of three xate species and of the economic importance of xate among the returnees (migrants returning to their home country from exile) in the cooperative Unión Maya Itzá in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, Guatemala. This case study shows that xate represented an important economic asset in the community. The institutional and human resources in La Quetzal have been important for realizing the economic value of xate for the community; however, these resources have also contributed to realizing a sustainable management of the xate resource in the community.

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Journal of Sustainable Development   ISSN 1913-9063 (Print)   ISSN 1913-9071 (Online) Email:

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