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Carr, David L. (2004). Ladino and Q'eqchí Maya Land Use and Land Clearing in the Sierra de Lacandón National Park, Petén, Guatemala. Agriculture and Human Values, 21(2-3), 171-179.


This paper examines potential differences in land use between Q'eqchí Maya and Ladino (Spanish speakers of mixed ancestry) farmers in a remote agricultural frontier in northern Petén, Guatemala. The research site, the Sierra de Lacandón National Park (SLNP), is a core conservation zone of Guatemala's Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR). In recent years, much has been written about the dramatic process of colonization and deforestation in Petén, Guatemala's largest and northernmost department. Since the early 1980s a rapid rural transformation has occurred where once remote forested regions have been colonized by small farmers, and lands have been converted to maize fields and cattle pastures. Consequently, less than half of the original forest cover in the department remains. Although approximately half of Petén's rural settlers have been Q'eqchí Maya, their land use, and its subsequent impact on Petenero forests, has been little studied. Results suggest that despite heterogeneous land use systems in migrant origin areas, given similar physical and socio-economic conditions following settlement in this remote frontier, Q'eqchí and Ladino farmer land use is remarkably similar. Only a modest land use difference appears to exist between the two groups: Q'eqchí Maya appear to have more extensive swidden maize rotations while Ladinos dedicate more land to pasture.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Agriculture and Human Values


Carr, David L.